By: Thomas Law Group On: April 19, 2022 In: Health Care Professionals Comments: 0

When working for a practice as an associate dentist there are typically restrictive covenants that include, among other items, a prohibition against working elsewhere within a certain number of miles from the practice, both during the employment term as well as for a period of time after termination of employment. Understanding this type of restrictive covenant, often called a non-competition zone, is key when entering into any employment relationship.

In the state of Ohio, restrictive covenants are legal and enforceable. That being said, in order to be enforceable, the restrictive covenant must be reasonable and must not limit the general public’s access to dental care. For a non-competition zone, what is “reasonable” can be a matter of opinion, but any such zone should be at least reasonably related to the geographic area that the practice draws its patients from. A more rural area would typically warrant a larger restricted radius than a suburban or urban area would. So how is a non-competition zone determined? Many billing programs allow a practice to perform a zip code analysis to see the zip codes that its patients reside in. Another factor that is often considered is that a specialist may require a larger restricted zone than a general dentist. These pieces of information, along with advice from legal counsel, can help determine what would be considered “reasonable” in your area.

Clauses related to restrictive covenants, as well as many others, must always be included in a written employment agreement between the employer and employee. It is important to negotiate the restrictive covenant rather than make assumptions about their enforceability, because at least one factor of enforceability in Ohio is that both parties agreed to the terms. In addition, it can be difficult and expensive to litigate any restrictive covenant issues in Court.

Before entering any employment relationship, it is important to understand and negotiate the terms of any restrictive covenants. The attorneys at Thomas Law Group have extensive experience with these matters and are happy to assist you with your employment needs.