(1) Notwithstanding s. 542.18 and subsection (2), enforcement of contracts that restrict or prohibit competition during or after the term of restrictive covenants, so long as such contracts are reasonable in time, area, and line of business, is not prohibited. In any action concerning enforcement of a restrictive covenant:
(a) A court shall not enforce a restrictive covenant unless it is set forth in a writing signed by the person against whom enforcement is sought.
So that's that, right? End of post.
Nah. It isn't that simple. Because probably 90% of the people who swear up and down to me that they never signed one, actually did. If you're the kind of person who signs that stack of paperwork HR put in front of you on your first day without reading, you very likely signed a noncompete or nonsolicitation agreement.
Plus, the noncompete provision might have been hidden in something that seemed innocuous like a "confidentiality agreement," "bonus agreement," or "stock option agreement." You wouldn't think something with those titles would restrict your ability to work, but trust me, they do. You need to read every single thing your employer asks you to sign, before you sign it, and keep a copy.
You'll notice that the statute doesn't require the employer to sign. Even if there's a blank signature line for the employer to sign, that isn't necessarily a magic wand to get you out of the agreement. Odds are, the employer has a copy they signed after you sent your signed version back. Or they'll sign it speedy quick before they sue.
The other issue is electronic signatures. Many employers have employees do their initial paperwork online, so they click something and it says they've signed. That doesn't necessarily get you out of it either. Florida has a whole set of laws on electronic signatures. Bottom line, "Unless otherwise provided by law, an electronic signature may be used to sign a writing and shall have the same force and effect as a written signature." Florida has also passed the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act," which allows electronic transactions, with some exceptions. So maybe if the company messed up the electronic signature or you didn't actually check the box to sign, you have a defense.
In general, if you didn't sign a noncompete or nonsolicitation agreement in Florida, it can't be enforced. But odds are, you may well have signed and not even realized it. I'll say it again: You need to read every single thing your employer asks you to sign, before you sign it, and keep a copy.