You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Job doc: Noncompete clauses complicate leaving

Q. I’m leaving my company, and they are putting together a severance package for me. I’m most concerned about my ability to find a new job and any restrictions my old employer may impose making finding a job more difficult. What should I be concerned about?

A. When someone receives a severance agreement from the organization they are leaving, the most common issues focus on salary, benefits, and job search support. Based on your concern about your severance agreement, I contacted Todd Bennett, a partner at the Cambridge law firm Bennett & Belfort PC. Bennett notes, “One important consideration is whether or not your former employer will ask to you abide by a restrictive covenant, such as a noncompete restriction. In Massachusetts, noncompete [agreements] are generally enforceable.’

Continue reading below

You might hope for a simple “yes” or “no” to determine whether a noncompete you are asked to sign is enforceable or not, but Bennett says the dreaded “It depends” typically applies. Some factors that courts will review in analyzing the enforceability of a noncompete, Bennett says, include whether the duties at the new job are similar to those at the old one, how much access you had to highly proprietary information, such as trade secrets, and how specialized your knowledge is in the industry.

In order to be enforceable, noncompete restrictions must be reasonable in both geographic scope and with respect to the duration of the restriction. Most courts will frown on a former employer who tries to use overly broad restrictions that may eliminate your chances of finding a job.

Potential legal claims against your former employer might create leverage for you to negotiate a more favorable noncompete, or it could stop or slow down your search. Review what you sign on the way in and the way out of any company to protect your career.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.