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Updated July 29, 2022

A Rhode Island non-compete agreement allows an employer to restrict an employee, after termination, from participating in the same business industry. A non-compete needs to specifically outline a time period and geographical area that defines the employee’s restraints.

Legally Enforceable?

Yes , a non-compete is legal in Rhode Island with the following exceptions :

Source: R.I. Gen. Laws § 28-59-3

Protectable Interest

An employer needs to also show proof that the employee competing against them would expose a protectable interest . The Supreme Court has ruled in the past that “the desire to be free from competition, by itself, is not a protectable interest.”

Source: Durapin, Inc. v. American Products, Inc. (1989)

Reasonableness

In determining if a non-compete is valid, “the crucial issue is reasonableness.” The test that determines reasonableness is dependent on the particular circumstances surrounding the agreement.

Source: Durapin, Inc. v. American Products, Inc. (1989)

Continued Employment

Rhode Island has determined that continued employment satisfies the requirement of sufficient consideration for a non-compete.

Source: Nestle Food Co. v. Miller (1993)

Physicians (prohibited)

It is unenforceable to restrict a licensed physician from being able to practice medicine for any period of time or geographical area.

Source: R.I. Gen. Laws § 5-37-33

Attorneys (prohibited)

It is prohibited for an attorney to enter into a non-compete that restricts them from practicing law.

Source: Rule 5.6 (Restrictions on Right to Practice)

Maximum Term

1 year and should be geographically limited to the areas served by the employer.

Source: Aim High Academy v. Ricna-Jessen (2008)

Blue Penciling

Rhode Island imposes a partial-enforcement rule , which allows a court to modify an unreasonable agreement if bad faith or overreaching is not found in the agreement. If the non-compete was made in good faith, the court would enforce the agreement to protect the business’s legitimate interests without imposing undue hardships on the employee.

Source: Durapin, Inc. v. American Products, Inc. (1989)