An Oklahoma non-compete agreement is a document that contains restrictive provisions that limit one signing party’s ability to compete professionally with the other. In Oklahoma, this agreement can only be used in the dissolution of a partnership, the sale of a business, or to prevent the signing party from soliciting established customers. Any agreement that attempts to prevent someone from carrying out their profession is unenforceable in Oklahoma, which means most employee-employer non-compete agreements are void.
In most employment scenarios, non-compete agreements are not enforceable in Oklahoma, as state law prohibits any contract that restricts an employee from carrying out their profession, trade, or business. However, there are a few exceptions wherein an agreement may be enforced. Oklahoma courts will deem a restraint reasonable if it:
1. “Is no greater than is required for the employer’s protection from unfair competition;
2. Does not impose undue hardship on the employee; and,
3. Is not injurious to the public.”
- Solicitation of customers. A former employee may be restricted from selling goods or services to their former employer’s established customers.
- Sale of the goodwill of a business. An agreement may be made to restrict the seller of a company from establishing or entering a similar business within a specified city, town, or county.
- Dissolution of a partnership. Partners may agree to refrain from carrying out comparable business operations within the same or contiguous county, city, or town when the partnership dissolves.
- Practicing law. Lawyers may not offer or enter any agreement that restricts their right to practice law when employment is terminated.
No time restrictions are mentioned explicitly in Oklahoma statutes. Oklahoma courts consider each case’s circumstances and facts to determine whether the duration of the non-compete period is reasonable. The court has shown to enforce favor agreements with two (2) year limits or less, but tends to find terms of three (3) or more years excessive.
An NCA signed in the sale of a business or dissolution of a partnership is enforceable if the applicable geographical area is limited to a specified town or city, or to a particular county and bordering counties. Oklahoma courts have generally found agreements with too broad of a radius to be unenforceable.
For example, in the case of Cohen Realty, Inc. v. Marinick, the Oklahoma Supreme Court did not uphold an agreement where a real estate broker was prohibited by his former employer from competing within an unlimited geographical area by his former employer.
In the case of Cardiovascular Surgical Specialists, Corp. v. Mammana, the restrictive covenants barred a doctor from working within a twenty-mile radius of their former employer’s offices, effectively creating a 100-mile radius outside of Tulsa. The Oklahoma Supreme Court found these limitations too restrictive.
Consideration is what an individual will receive as the value in return for signing a non-compete agreement. For example, the money received in the sale of the goodwill of a business. In Oklahoma, whenever there is a written instrument, consideration will be presumed, meaning that when the agreement is signed, it is assumed both parties have agreed that the value exchanged for the restrictive covenants will be acceptable.
- Okla. Stat. tit. 15 § 217
- Loewen Group Acq. v. Matthews, 12 P.3d 977, 2000 OK Civ. App. 109 (Okla. Civ. App. 2000)
- Okla. Stat. tit. 15 § 219A
- Okla. Stat. tit. 15 § 218
- Okla. Stat. tit. 15 § 219
- OK ST RPC Rule 5.6
- Tatum v. Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Co. of America, 465 P.2d 448, 1970 OK 27 (Okla. 1970)
- Speech and Hearing Center v. Baughman, 996 P.2d 939, 940-41, 1998 OK Civ. App. 122 (Okla. Civ. App. 1998)
- Cohen Realty, Inc. v. Marinick, 817 P.2d 747, 749, 1991 OK Civ. App. 71 (Okla. Civ. App. 1991)
- Cardiovascular Surgical Specialists, Corp. v. Mammana, 61 P.3d 210, 2002 OK 27 (Okla. 2002)
- Okla. Stat. tit. 15 § 114
- Martin & Fay, Inc. v. Pickard, 780 P.2d 1170-72 OK 122 (Okla. 1989)
Oklahoma Non-Disclosure Agreement – Business owners may use this form to share proprietary information with employees or partners while keeping it confidential.
Oklahoma Non-Solicitation Agreement – Helps protect an employer’s clients and staff from being solicited by employees and contractors after their relationship has ended.