(a) when you buy a business, then the buyer has a reasonable right to expect that the seller’s employees/shareholders don’t compete and dilute the value of the business they are buying – however, those non competes have to be reasonable in scope, time and geographical coverage;
(b) where essential to protect the employer’s intellectual property or proprietary information – but, again, the non – competes have to be very narrowly tailored to limit the future employment in order to specifically protect the employer’s IP or trademarks;
(c) NDAs are fully enforceable, such that the employee cannot, and should not, bring over any IP or confidential information of the employer as part of the employment with any 3rd party. As an employer, you should ensure that the employees get company’s work computers, phones, etc. Where the situation may be more critical, for example, hiring from a direct competitor, we would recommend that you conduct an in-take interview and document the discussion whereby the prospective hire is confirming that he/she is not bringing any 3rd party materials; and
(d) non-solicitations. These are fully enforceable. So, your prospective hires should not bring in with them any customer lists, or any ex-colleagues, ex-customers, etc. over to the company.
2. Most states in the U.S. follow the above principles, although some states like NY are not as clear cut against non-competes, and allow for non-competes where the employee may have highly unique skills or access to trade secrets. In such states, you as an employer should take more concrete steps to protect yourself and have a proper review process on the risks involved, specially while hiring from direct competitors. We need to look at the laws and policies of each state where the employee is located at the time of hire to determine the risk involved in hiring that employee and the circumstances surrounding the employee.