Restrictive covenants in the US: navigating the quagmire of enforceability


Post-employment restrictive covenants in the context of employment relationships have long posed challenges for employers. Both the nature of the agreement and the context in which it is entered into impact the enforceability of restrictive covenants. The lack of a unified or “national” body of law on restrictive covenants within the US further complicates the issue. For example, in some states, restrictive covenants are governed by the common law of contracts, and generally will be enforced if they are “reasonable” under the circumstances. Yet even the concept of what is “reasonable” varies from state to state. Other states have enacted statutes specifically governing restrictive covenants, often imposing strict requirements on the enforcement of the covenants and, in some cases, virtually prohibiting them. Ultimately, the enforceability of any restrictive covenant will depend on which state’s law applies, which in turn may depend on where the dispute is litigated.


Restrictive covenants are commonly used by employers to protect their valuable business interests, including:

- Trade secrets.

- Confidential information.

- Customer goodwill.

- The training and investment in their talent pool.

Post-employment covenants can vary significantly in scope, ranging from the most restrictive pure non-competition agreements to garden leave provisions, non-solicitation covenants and simple confidentiality agreements.

Originally published in the Employment and Employee Benefits multi-jurisdictional guide 2012/13.

Please see full article below for more information.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© DLA Piper | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


DLA Piper on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.