Illinois Appellate Court Holds That Two Years of Continuous Employment Necessary to Enforce Restrictive Covenants
In a very significant ruling, the Illinois Appellate Court has held that in order to enforce a restrictive covenant against an employee, the employee must work for the employer for at least two years continuously following execution of the document. Restrictive covenants are often used by employers to bar an employee for working for a competitor or even working in the same field for a specified period of time in the event that the employee separates his employment from the employer. Oftentimes, this restriction places a huge burden on the employee, freezing him out of legitimate work opportunities. On the other hand, the employer often contends that it has legitimate business interests to protect and would be damaged if the employee left and took his knowledge with him to a competitor. Court in the past had suggested that one year of post-employment was necessary. It should be noted that this opinion was issued by one district of the appellate court (covering the Chicago area) and is not binding statewide; however, it is likely to be very influential in litigation in this area.