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Are non-competes enforceable against independent contractors?

Employers of all types are requiring employees and independent contractors to sign agreements that contain broad non-compete provisions more and more each day.  There is a simple explanation for why—they don’t want competition.  But whether these agreements are enforceable is another story.

The Virginia case of RLLC v Sturgill is instructive.  In that case, a speech therapist employed by a staffing company was classified as an independent contractor and required to sign a non-compete clause.  The staffing company assigned her to work at a school.  The staffing company sued her after she left the job a year later to work at the school she had previously been assigned to.

The court determined that Sturgill was misclassified by the staffing company as an independent contractor and should rightfully have been treated as an employee and on that basis, ruled against the company, finding that because of this misclassification, the non-compete agreement was unenforceable.

Courts in Maryland and the District of Columbia have not as of yet ruled on this issue. However, Maryland recently passed legislation, 2016 Md. SB 90, that imposes assessments and sanctions on employers who misclassify workers.

The employment lawyers of Alan Lescht and Associates, PC have vast experience litigating non-compete provisions.  Call (202-463-6036) or email us if you need help understanding your rights or defending against charges that you may have violated the contract.

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