Non-compete agreements can be useful for protecting valuable business interests. But to be effective, their terms and their application by the employer must meet numerous new standards recently established by the Illinois Supreme Court, and the Illinois Appellate Court. Until 2011, Illinois law generally disfavored non-compete agreements, and employers struggled to draft non-compete agreements that could hold up in court. However, in December of 2011, the Illinois Supreme Court handed employers a roadmap for testing the enforceability of a non-compete provision, when it reversed a long series of cases that relied upon the “legitimate business interest test”, which the Court held to be too restrictive. By adopting a much more reasoned “totality of the circumstances test,” the Court expanded the basis for a business to successfully argue that its non-compete agreement was enforceable against its employees. This decision was good news for Illinois business owners. However, soon after this decision became the law, the Illinois Appellate court threw another roadblock into the mix. Now the employer must provide adequate consideration to at-will employees before a non-compete agreement can be enforced against them.
Do the terms of your non-compete agreement satisfy the latest standards established by the courts in Illinois? Can your non-compete agreement protect your business interests? Only a business attorney with clear knowledge of the current law, and a practice that regularly involves the preparation and enforcement of non-compete agreements, can help you. Winick & Gallaher, P.C. are business attorneys who know non-compete agreements, and they can review yours and assist you to make it enforceable.