Are Non-Competes Enforceable in Virginia?

non compete agreement form Non-compete agreements may be enforceable in Virginia if the terms detailed in the contract are considered reasonable. In cases of unreasonable terms or illegal business acts, a judge or jury may release you from the agreement.

If you have signed or plan to sign a non-compete agreement, it is in your best interest to consult attorney James H. Shoemaker. Mr. Shoemaker has decades of experience as an employment lawyer and can provide effective legal representation in non-compete cases.

How Do I Know if a Non-Compete is Enforceable in Virginia?

Whether a non-compete agreement is considered reasonable and enforceable depends on the context. A non-compete could be unenforceable in one situation but enforceable in another. Virginia courts consider multiple factors when determining if a non-compete is enforceable, including:

  • Does the contract excessively restrict the former employee?
    • If the agreement minimally restricts the former employee in a clear attempt to protect the business, the court may find it reasonable and enforceable.
  • Does the contract unfairly impede the former employee’s employment prospects?
    • If the agreement makes it extremely difficult or impossible for you to find employment in your area of expertise, the court may find the contract unreasonable and unenforceable.
  • Does the contract contradict public policy?
    • Public policy refers to the principles underlying laws and regulations.

The best way to know if a non-compete is enforceable in Virginia is to have Mr. Shoemaker review the contract. He is well-versed in what the courts typically consider reasonable and unreasonable.

What Happens if You Violate a Non-Compete Agreement?

If you violate a non-compete, your former employer can take legal action. Typically, this process would start with sending you a cease and desist letter.

If a lawsuit is pursued, the burden is on your employer to show that harm was done as a result of the violation. Not only will the court need to see that the company lost profit or was harmed in some other way, your employer will need to be able to validate everything in the contract.

How do You Beat a Non-Compete Agreement in Virginia?

Since Virginia is a “red pencil” state, only one aspect of the contract must be found unenforceable for the entire contract to be invalidated. Demonstrating that the company violated business law or that one of the following conditions or restrictions is unreasonable can result in the invalidation of the entire agreement.

Time and Geography

Virginia courts are unlikely to enforce a non-compete with broad time or geographic limitations. If the non-compete prohibits you from working in a particular geographic location that is outside the area in which your former employer does business, it could be considered an unreasonable restriction. Similarly, a contract that restricts you from working in a geographical area for a decade is more likely to be considered unreasonable than one that sets a time period of one year.

Definition of Competitors

The court may invalidate the agreement if the contract’s restrictions extend beyond legitimate business competitors. If your employment in a particular business, position, or field stipulated in the contract poses no risk to the employer, the agreement may be found invalid.


Another element is consideration. Consideration refers to the concept of mutual value. If you promise to uphold restrictions on where you can seek employment, your former employer must offer something of significance in return. In some cases, an offer of employment is not considered adequate consideration to justify broad restrictions, and a non-compete will be invalidated on these grounds.

Breach of Contract or Unlawful Acts

Employers are prohibited from certain behaviors by law. For example, if your employer fails to meet contractual obligations, the court will be less likely enforce the agreement. Some examples of a breach of contract are failure to pay you wages or vacation pay. Discrimination, wrongful termination, or other illegal acts against you may also prevent a ruling in the employer’s favor as well.

Contact Us for an Employment Law Consultation in Virginia

Mr. Shoemaker’s vast experience and his professionalism make him a great asset in employment law cases. Whether you are seeking to get out of an unreasonable non-compete or you want to protect yourself against potential issues by having a non-compete reviewed before you sign, Mr. Shoemaker is highly qualified to represent you and your interests.

Call us today at 757-223-4580 to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Hampton Roads, Washington, D.C., Virginia Beach, and throughout the U.S.

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