In many cases, an employer may require their employee to sign a non-compete clause before they even begin working. While these can be beneficial to an employer, understanding the basics of these clauses is essential for an employee to avoid potential problems.

For employers in Chicago, non-competes are a useful tool to protect their investments and proprietary information. They also allow a business to maintain a competitive edge by preventing former employees from joining forces with a competitor. But for employees, non-compete agreements can be restrictive and, in some cases, illegal.

In this article, we will discuss the basics of a non-compete clause, the pros and cons of having one, and what to consider if you're an employee in Chicago considering entering into a non-compete agreement. We'll also explain the importance of seeking out quality legal counsel from attorneys who understand local regulations and laws in order to ensure that all parties involved understand the terms of the agreement.

What is a Non-Compete Clause?

A non-compete clause is typically a written agreement that restricts a former employee from working for another business within a certain geographic area or time frame. It essentially seeks to prohibit the employee from performing specific duties or working in a similar role for a competitor. These types of clauses are often included as part of broader employment agreements and are typically used to protect an employer's investments, confidential information, or competitive advantage.

In order to be enforced, non-compete clauses in Chicago must be considered "reasonable." Generally speaking, this means they must be supported by consideration, they can't be overly restrictive, and they must be in the best interests of the employer. Non-compete clauses also must not be broad enough that they prevent the employee from pursuing all possible career paths after leaving the company.

Pros of Non-Compete Clauses

For employers, non-compete clauses provide protection for confidential information, customer relationships, and business operations. This is especially true in an industry that relies heavily on unique strategies or skills. By protecting a business's interests, non-compete clauses can make it easier to attract and retain quality employees.

Non-competes can also prevent an employee from taking valuable employees, clients, and other resources with them to a rival company. This is beneficial for employers since it prevents talent drain and ensures that the departing employee won't have an unfair advantage when competing in the open market.

Cons of Non-Compete Clauses

On the other hand, some non-competes can be overly broad or restrictive, which could subject the employer to legal penalties. Additionally, some non-compete clauses will allow the employer to sue a former employee if they breach the agreement, even if the employer was unaware of the breach at the time. This can be especially burdensome for employees if they are unaware of the complexities of the agreement.

Furthermore, non-compete clauses can prevent former employees from taking up positions within their chosen field, and can restrict their ability to work and compete in the open market. This is largely why many states have restrictions on the enforceability of certain non-compete clauses.

What to Consider Before Signing

As an employee in Chicago, it is essential to understand the terms of your non-compete agreement before signing. The specifics should depend on the nature of the job and the industry in which one is employed. Generally speaking, employees should make sure that the non-compete agreement is reasonable in scope, and that they understand any restrictions or limitations outlined in the agreement.

It is also important to seek out counsel from a business lawyer with experience in local regulations and laws. At UpCounsel, our online attorneys have an average of 14 years of experience, and many of them are familiar with local regulations and laws. Whether you need a one-time consult or a complete freelance legal department, UpCounsel's network of experienced lawyers has you covered.

Furthermore, by considering the pros and cons of non-compete clauses, employees in Chicago can make an informed decision about whether or not they should enter into an agreement. This helps ensure that all parties involved understand the rights and responsibilities they are agreeing to.


Non-compete clauses can be useful tools for employers in protecting their interests, but they can also be overly restrictive and illegal for employees in Chicago. It is important to understand the terms and restrictions of a given agreement before signing on and to seek out legal counsel from attorneys familiar with local regulations and laws. By considering the pros and cons of non-compete clauses and understanding the legal implications of such agreements, employees can make better decisions about whether or not to enter into one.


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