Non-Compete Agreements: Understanding Their Enforceability and Limitations

November 8, 2023 Admin Employment Law

In the competitive landscape of today’s job market, non-compete agreements have become increasingly common. For both employers and employees in Los Angeles, understanding the enforceability and limitations of these agreements is crucial. This article delves into the intricacies of non-compete agreements in the context of Los Angeles employment law, shedding light on what you need to know.

What is a Non-Compete Agreement

A non-compete agreement, often called a non-compete clause or covenant not to compete, is a legally binding contract between an employer and an employee. Its primary purpose is to restrict the employee from engaging in competitive activities that may harm the employer’s business interests for a specified period and within a defined geographical area.

Enforceability of Non-Compete Agreements in Los Angeles

Statutory Framework

In Los Angeles, non-compete agreements are subject to specific legal regulations. Under California law, these agreements are generally disfavored and closely scrutinized. Section 16600 of the California Business and Professions Code states that “every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void.”

This means non-compete agreements are generally unenforceable in California, with few exceptions.


While non-compete agreements are largely unenforceable in Los Angeles, there are exceptions. Employers may enforce non-compete agreements in the following circumstances:

Sale of a Business: If an employee sells their business and agrees not to compete with the buyer, the non-compete agreement may be enforceable to protect the buyer’s goodwill and the value of the business.

Trade Secrets: Non-compete agreements may be enforced if they are necessary to protect a legitimate trade secret.

Dissolution of a Partnership: In cases involving the dissolution of a partnership, non-compete agreements may be enforced to prevent former partners from competing unfairly.

Industry-Specific Restrictions

Certain industries, such as healthcare, have specific regulations that may allow for limited non-compete agreements to protect patient relationships and confidential information.

Limitations on Non-Compete Agreements

Even when enforceable, non-compete agreements in Los Angeles have significant limitations. Here are some key points to consider:

Duration and Geographic Scope: Non-compete agreements should have reasonable limitations regarding duration and geographical scope. An agreement that restricts an employee from working in a particular field for an unreasonably long time or across a vast area is less likely to be upheld.

Overbreadth: Non-compete agreements should be narrowly tailored to protect the employer’s legitimate business interests. An overly broad agreement that stifles an employee’s ability to find work in their field may be deemed unenforceable.

Public Policy: Agreements that violate public policy or seek to restrict an individual’s ability to earn a living unreasonably are unlikely to be upheld in Los Angeles.


In Los Angeles, non-compete agreements must be carefully crafted to comply with the state’s legal framework. Understanding the enforceability and limitations of these agreements is essential for both employers and employees. While non-compete agreements can serve as valuable tools to protect a business’s interests, they must be fair, reasonable, and in compliance with California law.

For those navigating non-compete agreements in Los Angeles, seeking legal counsel from an experienced Los Angeles Employment Law Attorney is advisable to ensure your rights and interests are protected throughout the process. Get the justice you deserve with Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers; contact us at 310-527-6994.


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