These days, many employers seek to add an extra layer of legal protection to their business by having employees sign confidentiality agreements before beginning work. This is understandable, especially considering how likely any company is to face litigation over its lifetime. However, many confidentiality agreements handed to fresh employees are not nearly as ironclad as either side may think.
In many cases, employers weaken the agreement by making it intentionally far-reaching or vague. While it is certainly reasonable for a business to protect certain aspects of its operation or ask an employee to agree to some degree of confidentiality, if the scope of the agreement is too restrictive to the employee or too broad in its reach, a court may not choose to uphold it.
If you have concerns about a confidentiality agreement, it is wise to consider which aspects of the agreement pose potential complications. In some cases, it is more likely for a court to strike down individual provisions of the agreement than dismiss it in its entirety. For instance, if your employer objects to you gaining employment with a competitor, a court may not uphold the agreement if the competitor operates sufficiently far enough away to minimize actual competition.
On the other hand, if your employer or former employer is already making waves about a potential violation of your agreement, you should look for any grounds at all to undermine the validity of the agreement. The weaker you can make the agreement appear overall, the greater leverage you have to defend yourself. Be sure to use all the legal tools and guidance you have available to protect your own rights and priorities in any business dispute.