Today's Veterinary Business

AUG 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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50 Today's Veterinary Business Leadership Leadership LEGAL LINGO Nearly every industry uses employee noncompete agreements, and veterinary practices are no ex- ception. Whether you're a veterinarian or an administrative professional who has been presented with a noncompete agreement as a condition of employment, or a practice owner considering how to protect your business, you need to know the types of agreements in play, the pros and cons of each, and the issues of en- forceability. And you should understand that alternatives exist to help protect business interests. By Nicole Snyder, JD Know the Difference There are two general types of non- compete agreements: a covenant not to compete and a nonsolicita- tion covenant. A general covenant not to com- pete prevents someone from providing competing services similar to those performed during employment for a period of time after the employment ends and typically within a specified geo- graphic area. For example: "During employment and for a pe- riod of one year following termina- tion of employment, employee will not practice small animal veteri- nary medicine anywhere within 30 miles of employer's clinic located at 888 Main St., City, State." A covenant of nonsolicitation differs in that the employee is not prevented from taking a job with a competitor but is prevented from soliciting the employer's clients. For example: "For a period of one year follow- ing termination of employment, employee will not solicit any clients whom employee served while working for employer for the purpose of offering the clients veterinary care services." It is not uncommon for an employ- ee to agree to be bound by both covenants. Additionally, some em- ployees are asked to sign nonso- licitation agreements that prohibit encouraging a former colleague to leave his or her employment. For example: "For a period of one year follow- ing termination of employment, employee will not solicit any of employer's employees for the purpose of encouraging the individual to terminate employ- ment with employer to pursue alternate employment." Enforceability Factors Employers often say that enforc- ing an employee noncompete agreement is difficult. It's also typical for them to be surprised to learn that their agreements might be unenforceable or even unlaw- ful. The truth is that many factors determine whether a noncompete is enforceable. Separation anxiety Noncompete agreements protect the practice when a veterinarian leaves, but they are not always enforceable, so choosing an alternative measure could be a smart move.

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