A Wisconsin Non-Compete Agreement is a contract a business uses to prevent employees from taking a job with a competitor or starting a competing business for some time after leaving employment.
In Wisconsin, a non-compete agreement can be used to protect trade secrets, confidential business information, and customer relationships.
Reasonable Uses and Objections
- Enforceable when terminated without cause? – Not decided.
- Employee non-solicitation agreement permitted? – Yes.
- Customer non-solicitation agreements permitted? – Yes.
- Does continuing employment equal sufficient consideration?– Yes.
- Statute of Limitations for breach of contract: 6 years.
Legally Enforceable in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin law provides a specific statute that governs non-compete agreements. While non-compete agreements are permitted, their terms are regulated under Wisconsin Statutes section 103.465 (2018).
The statute provides that a non-compete agreement “within a specified territory and during a specified time is lawful and enforceable only if the restrictions imposed are reasonably necessary for the protection of the employer or principal.
Any covenant described in this section imposing an unreasonable restraint is illegal, void, and unenforceable even as to any part of the covenant or performance that would be a reasonable restraint.”
The Wisconsin statute clearly provides that any non-compete agreement must contain a time limitation to be valid.
The Wisconsin statute also provides that any non-compete agreement must contain a geographical area to be valid. In drafting a geographical limitation, employers must be especially precise to avoid terms that might seem unlimited in scope.
Thus, while an agreement “not to solicit all customers” of the employer might, on its face, seem reasonable, it can be construed as an effective nationwide ban and be deemed unenforceable.
The Wisconsin statute implies that if any part of the non-compete agreement is unreasonable, the entire agreement is unenforceable and void, even if some other provisions would be considered reasonable. This rule prevents Wisconsin courts from modifying non-compete agreements at trial to make them enforceable under some variation of the “blue pencil” doctrine.
In drafting a Wisconsin non-compete agreement, an employer must use care and foresight in preparation. Each term must be carefully drawn to protect a legitimate business interest. The agreement must contain a geographical scope, which is limited, and a time duration, which is also limited.
Agreements that are vague and excessively broad in size are unlikely to be upheld, given the terms of the Wisconsin statute. Precise and narrowly tailored agreements seem more likely to be upheld in court. Taking a moment to recite the legitimate business concerns of the employer in the contract may be prudent.
This Wisconsin non-compete agreement template will let you draft an up-to-date agreement for your business simply and inexpensively, downloadable in PDF and Word format: