At one time, a non-compete clause was primarily limited to employment contracts of employees who had access to trade secrets or other proprietary information. Today, non-compete clauses are being inserted into employment contracts of tutors, auto workers and camp counselors. As such agreements have become more common in the workplace, workers may be restricted in their professional development after they are let go from a job.
There are remedies for workers who are not allowed to work for a competitor due to such an agreement. First, a worker may ask a lawyer to draft an advisory opinion letter to the former employer stating that the clause is too broad. A worker may also go to court and ask a judge to nullify the agreement due to it being too long in length or too restrictive as to where the employee can work. Another option is to get a job and hope that the former employer doesn't attempt to enforce the agreement.
Generally, there must be a good business interest for having workers agree to noncompete clauses or confidentiality agreements. In many cases, such a clause is only required of those who have access to proprietary information or other intellectual property that a company has a legitimate interest in keeping to itself for the foreseeable future. Those who think that they have been subjected to an unnecessary agreement or one that could unfairly prohibit them from moving on in their career may wish to consult with an employment law attorney.
Source: CNBC, "Are noncompete clauses getting out of control?", Bob Sullivan , June 25, 2014