Non-Compete Agreements In Civil Engineer: Finding Balance

Non-Compete Agreements In Civil Engineer: Finding Balance

**Very interesting…just a few weeks after this post, the US Government has made the decision to ban all non-compete agreements with the exception for those in leadership roles and making a base of $150,000.00. There are still some gray areas, and the ruling is in the process of being appealed, so we shall see…**

As a recruiter specializing in #civilengineering, I’ve seen the landscape of non-compete agreements evolve over time. While they can serve a purpose, it’s crucial to consider their impact on professionals’ career mobility and opportunities for growth.

Here are some real-world scenarios I have heard of:

👉🏼𝐂𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐭-𝐁𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐋𝐢𝐦𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬: Instead of broad restrictions, non-competes could focus on specific clients . For example, limiting solicitation of clients that the company has an ongoing or recent relationship with makes sense, with the exception of nationally recognized companies such as McDonald’s, DR Horton, or AutoZone. Those organizations ARE NOT exclusive to just a handful of exclusive firms; maybe limit by zip code radius tied to existing work with said client.

👉🏼 𝐍𝐞𝐠𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐓𝐞𝐫𝐦𝐬: The list of restricted clients should be negotiated upfront. It’s unreasonable to prevent engineers from pursuing opportunities with clients that the company merely submitted proposals to in the past or hasn’t worked with for an extended period. I’ve actually read non-competes that not only include existing or recent clients, but even potential clients where opportunities were merely pursued, and not even awarded!

👉🏼 𝐏𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐜 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐨𝐫 𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬: Non-competes with public sector clients could be time-limited or micro-region-specific. For instance, limiting the pursuit of work with a particular city or agency for a set time frame, while allowing them to explore opportunities with other entities. Or, in the instance of let’s say a statewide DOT, to say someone cannot pursue work from a district or area that the firm does not do any work in seems unfair.

👉🏼𝐑𝐨𝐥𝐞-𝐁𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐑𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬: Non-competes for employees w/o ownership stakes, such as project managers, can be overly restrictive. Demanding that project managers sign agreements limiting them from working for any competitor within a 50+ mile radius for two years after departure is excessively prohibitive, 𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 if the firm is regional or national.

👉🏼𝐑𝐞𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐒𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐠𝐢𝐞𝐬: Some firms implement retention bonuses tied to non-compete agreements. But they too can be quite restrictive. For instance, I recently learned of a firm that offers employees to be part of a “leadership” program where they pay them a bonus of a couple thousand dollars. This “program” I believe is just smoke-and-mirrors for an attempt to retain top talent…which in-and-of-itself is not bad, but rather than having them sign a restrictive non-compete, why not just have them sign a document that says if they take part in the program and choose to leave within one year, they would owe that bonus back?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Have you encountered similar scenarios or experienced the impact of non-compete agreements in the civil engineering field?

#CivilEngineeringJobs #noncompeteagreements

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