Understanding a Dental Non Compete Clause (The Long-Term Impact)
Competition in the dentistry field keeps getting stronger by the day. As a practitioner, you’ve undoubtedly heard about dental non-compete agreements. But have you ever sought to find out what they’re all about and how they affect you?
Thanks to the growth of multi-location, low-cost dental facilities, smaller practices that provide procedures such as teeth whitening may find it challenging to stay profitable. For this reason, your employer may insert a non-compete clause in your employment contract to protect their business from potential competition and offset the professional benefits offered.
If you’re a dentist about to take on a new job and the employment contract has a non-compete clause, it’s best to work with an experienced dental contract lawyer. This protects your rights once you start the new job and decide to move on afterward.
What Are the Basics of Dental Non-Compete Agreements?
A dental non-compete agreement is a clause in the employment contract that prohibits the restricted party (you) from providing services similar to what the non-restricted party (your employer) provides. Although these clauses are prevalent in employment contracts, they’re also common in contracts to purchase existing dental practices.
A non-compete clause may restrict your actions by actions, clients, or location. For instance, it may prevent you from opening a practice within five miles of your employer or prohibit you from soliciting patients from your employer’s client list.
Non-compete clauses are particularly suited for specialized dental practices. They prevent specialists from joining a dental office and working for only a short time before leaving to open a new office using the skills gained at the initial practice. It also keeps dentists from leaving a dental practice and leaving with all the current office staff and specialists.
Who Does a Dental Non-Compete Clause Benefit?
Dental non compete clauses typically benefit the dentist who stays in the practice when another dentist leaves. When these agreements get enforced, the remaining dentists benefit in the following ways:
- They won’t lose customers and income if a dentist in their office leaves and opens a facility nearby. That’s particularly true for specialty facilities that may not have many patients to serve within a locality.
- They don’t have to worry about losing their office staff since they can’t get poached by the dentist who decides to leave and open a new facility.
- They’ll know whoever joins their facility does so to work and enhance their skills and job experience rather than potentially stealing their staff and clients.
How Long Do Dental Non-Compete Agreements Last?
Although non-competition clauses in employment contracts often get considered as restraints of trade, the agreements are enforced based on reason. Thus, the agreements only get enforced for as long as it’s reasonable.
So, working with a dental contract attorney is always a good idea since it helps you determine the specific non-compete laws for your state. Generally, a non compete agreement will be considered reasonable and enforceable if:
- It isn’t more than what’s required to protect the employer.
- It doesn’t inflict untold hardship on either the employer or dentist.
- The restraint doesn’t affect the public.
Exceptions to Non-Compete Agreements
Dental non-compete agreements are not applicable everywhere. In states such as Ohio, a dental non-compete clause doesn’t apply if a practitioner’s expertise is essential to the general public’s well-being. Nonetheless, it’s still enforceable if it partially protects the employer’s legitimate interests.
A dental contract attorney can help you review a non-compete agreement before appending your signature. This way, you’ll avoid legal problems later on, especially when you decide to open a dental facility. There is also a need to take into account potential dental malpractice issues too.
Signing a Non-Compete Clause: Things to Consider
When reviewing your employment contract and the non-compete clause therein, you should consider the following:
The Geographical Location Covered
A big city can support more dental practices in a smaller area than rural towns. If you get employed in a specialty dental clinic, your employer is also likely to enforce a non-compete clause in a larger area than a general dental facility can.
The Agreement’s Time-Frame
It’s best to evaluate how long the agreement will apply and determine its impact on your career progression. For instance, if you’ve always wanted to work in your hometown after getting employed in a dental facility operating within the same town, will the agreement bar you from pursuing your dreams?
Circumstances that Negate the Agreement
Will the non-compete clause apply if your employer sells their practice, relocates, or closes shop? Do such circumstances negate the non-competition clause in your employment contract?
Working for a Competing Dental Facility
When dentists decide to leave a facility, they don’t always open their own practices. Many join forces with a competing dental facility, often within the same locality. For this reason, it’s best to ensure your non-compete agreement addresses such circumstances.
What does the non-compete agreement stipulate if you decide to join a facility that competes directly with your employer rather than opening your own facility? Typically, employers don’t feel too happy when employees leave to join competing dental practices. Ensuring that such scenarios get captured in your employment contract’s non-compete clause helps you avoid legal issues.
Why You Need a Dental Contract Lawyer
Contracts are an obligatory aspect of nearly all legal transactions, including employment. A well-drafted dental employment contract containing the necessary non-compete clauses can help to highlight the responsibilities of all the affected parties and protect their legal rights. Nonetheless, reviewing an employment contract is a painstaking experience, given your limited legal expertise.
It’s a no-brainer that you should only enter a contract after it gets reviewed by a skilled dental contract lawyer. At Chelle Law, we have hands-on experience drafting and reviewing employment contracts in all medical specialties. In particular, dentists getting into employment can benefit from our thorough review of dental non-compete agreements.
We understand just how binding a non-compete agreement is. Thus we’re committed to helping you make an informed decision before signing an employment contract that will affect your career in the long run. Contact us today for assistance in contract reviews or learn more about our services.
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