A Georgia Non-Compete Agreement is a legal document that allows employers to restrict an employee’s ability to go and work for a competitor or to provide competing services either during their employment with the company or after leaving Georgia.
Non-competes are often temporary documents that limit where an employee can work after leaving an employer.
Legally Enforceable in Georgia?
Non-compete agreements in Georgia are legally enforceable, but there are limits on what can be enforced. In most cases, non-competes are only allowed for “key” employees, defined in § 13-8-53 as employees in the company’s top 5% income.
The following items can be protected with a non-compete agreement in Georgia:
- Trade secrets
- Valuable confidential information that does not otherwise qualify as a trade secret
- Substantial relationships with specific prospective or existing customers, patients, vendors, or clients
- Customer, patient, or client goodwill associated with an ongoing business, commercial, or professional practice, a specific geographic location
- A specific marketing or trade area
- Extraordinary or specialized training.
Reasonable Use and Exceptions
Georgia has several defined reasonable uses and exceptions for non-compete agreements in the state.
The reasonable uses include:
- Appropriate in time, space, and scope
- Justified by a legitimate business interest
- It applies to employees who regularly solicit customers, engage in sales, perform the duties of a key employee, or have the responsibility of managing a department and periodically directing the employees’ work and have the authority to hire or fire them.
Georgia state law does not state specific limitations on time in non-compete agreements. However, agreements shouldn’t be too broad and particular to the threat to the business’s interests.
On that note, keeping agreements as short as possible is wise. An agreement over two years may not be enforceable if challenged in court as per § 13-8-57(b)(5).
Georgia code limits the geographic scope to only areas where employees provided services or had significant presence or influence. It’s possible that there could be disagreement about what that area may be. However, limiting the agreement’s geographic scope as narrowly as possible is advisable to ensure the contract is enforceable.
Blue Penciling Allowed
According to § 13-8-53(d), “so long as the modification does not render the covenant more restrictive about the employee than originally drafted by the parties.” A court may modify an unenforceable or otherwise void non-compete agreement in Georgia.
See below for a sample non-compete agreement in Georgia, downloadable in PDF and Word format.