The Georgia Legislature enacted a law this year that would make non-compete contracts easier to enforce and give judges more leeway to make decisions when those contracts wind up in court.
Often times non-compete contracts are used when a person with expansive industry experience trains another person in a specific manner that often involves the teaching of trade secrets or other manners to be successful. The contract prevents the trainee from using this knowledge to one day compete against the trainer in the same markets.
These sort of agreements over the protection of trades secrets recently gained national exposure when Hewlett-Packard sued Mark Hurd, its former chief executive after he took a job with rival Oracle as president of one of its business units.
The new law is significant, as an earlier attempt by the state legislature to enact a similar non-compete measure in the 1990s was struck down by the Georgia Supreme Court. This November, Georgia voters will be asked to amend the state constitution to resolve the conflict. Otherwise, the new law will be invalid.
Columbus, Ga. attorney Ted Morgan is one of the foremost authorities on non-compete agreements in the state. He has over 20 years of experience handling the cases and says the new agreement caused a massive shakeup in the way the contracts are disputed.
Proponents of the change say the new law would bring Georgia in line with the majority of the United States with similar statutes, making it easier for businesses to protect trade secrets and make the state more competitive in business recruitment.
Under current law, if anyone clause is a non-compete agreement is illegal, the whole contract is invalid. Georgia is one of the few states where this is still the case.
The new legislation will allow judges to strike specific clauses that are illegal from the agreement while holding the rest enforceable.
Opponents to the change say it would hinder workers from getting jobs and starting their own businesses, which in turn hurts the economy.
Ted Morgan is working diligently to keep up with new laws as they progress and is willing to work with clients on both sides to come to favorable agreements.
Non-compete contracts that now wind up in the courts often seek to impose unreasonable restrictions on the employee, Hawkins said. The change would invite more litigation, not less, he said.
Residents in the Georgia and Alabama areas should Contact Ted Morgan today for all non-compete contract disputes.
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