A Kansas non-compete agreement is a legal instrument through which an employer restricts an employee’s ability to work after they are no longer employed. This agreement protects an employer’s business interests by preventing the employee from working for a competitor, starting a company in the same industry, or engaging with their clients/customers.
The scope of non-compete agreements is regulated by Kansas courts of law, which judge the enforceability of these contracts on the equity of the restrictions. Employers cannot be unreasonable with their demands, such as creating overly-broad geographical restrictions, setting unjust time limits, or applying irrelevant restraints on industries/professions. The employer is also obligated to provide sufficient consideration to the employee, such as employment or financial compensation.
Kansas law does not specifically cover non-compete agreements and their enforceability; therefore, the courts must rely on previous case law to determine whether or not non-compete provisions are justifiable. Kansas courts will typically enforce an agreement if it protects a legitimate business interest, does not impose an undue burden on the employee, does not injure the public, and sets acceptable time and geographical restrictions.
- Reasonable and judicial to public. Non-compete agreements will be considered valid and enforceable by Kansas courts if they find the contract to be reasonable under the circumstances and not adverse to public welfare.
- Lawyer’s right to practice law. Lawyers may not be presented with any type of agreement that inhibits their ability to practice law after leaving a firm.
The courts of Kansas have not set a fixed time period in regard to non-compete agreements. A common time restriction is two (2) years, but the courts will want to make sure the limitation set by an employer is not more restrictive than is necessary to protect their business interests. In the past, courts have enforced three-year and even ten-year non-compete covenants.
Similar to time restrictions, the territorial limitations established in a non-compete contract should protect the employer’s business but must not be unreasonable for the employee. Different industries and professions will require varying degrees of geographical restrictions. The courts have upheld a thirty-mile radius in the field of dermatology, while on the other hand reduced a hundred-mile radius to five miles in a case pertaining to a physician/surgeon.
In order for a non-compete provision to be enforceable, adequate consideration must be provided to the employee in exchange for signing the agreement. The following actions have been determined by Kansas courts to be sufficient consideration:
- Idbeis v. Wichita Surgical Specialists, P.A, 279 Kan. 755, 763, 112 P.3d 81, 87 (Kan. 2005)
- Weber v. Tillman, 259 Kan. 457, 913 P.2d 84 (Kan. 1996)
- Kansas Court Rule 5.6
- Wichita Clinic v. Louis, 185 P.3d 946, 39 Kan. App. 2d 848 (Kan. Ct. App. 2008)
- Foltz v. Struxness, 168 Kan. 714, 215 P.2d 133 (Kan. 1950)
- Puritan-Bennett Corp. v. Richter, 657 P.2d 589, 8 Kan. App. 2d 311 (Kan. Ct. App. 1983)
- Varney Business Services, Inc. v. Pottroff, 275 Kan. 20, 33, 59 P.3d 1003, 1014 (Kan. 2002)
Kansas Non-Disclosure Agreement – A legal contract that aims to prevent unwanted dissemination of a party’s confidential and proprietary information.
Kansas Non-Solicitation Agreement – Used to limit a party’s ability to communicate with an employer’s clients or workers.