Arizona law treats doctors/physicians differently with regards to the enforceability of non-compete agreements because of the unique relationship that patients have with their doctors. As shown in a recent post, even though there is a public policy interest in allowing patients to continue seeing a doctor of their choice, Arizona courts have not outlawed non-compete agreements against doctors altogether.

Rather, a non-compete agreement with a doctor must be based on legitimate protectable business interests and must not be outweighed by the patient’s interest in seeing the doctor. Shufeldt v. NextCare, Inc., No. 1 CA-CV 15-0327, 2016 Ariz. App. at *10-11 (Ct. App. Nov. 10, 2016) 

Undecided Issue in Arizona

However, when it comes to physician’s assistants, nurses, and therapists, the Arizona courts have not yet taken a definitive position as to whether they will be treated similar to doctor non-compete agreements, or if they will be treated more similarly to everyday employee non-compete agreements. (See An Arizona Employee’s Guide to Non-Compete Agreements

In general, Arizona courts have stated that a restriction must do more than simply prohibit fair competition by the employee. Bryceland v. Northey, 160 Ariz. 213, 216 (App. 1989) Arizona courts have also said that a restrictive covenant cannot be used to stop a past employee from using the training and skills he/she acquired during employment, to a new job.  Lessner Dental Laboratories, Inc. v. Kidney, 16 Ariz. App. 159, 162, 492 P.2d 39, 42 (1971).  

However, Arizona courts have found that restrictive covenants that are no broader than the employer’s legitimately protectable interest will be enforced. American Credit Bureau, Inc. v. Carter, 11 Ariz. App. 145, 147, 462 P.2d 838, 840 (1969).

Some courts outside of Arizona have extended doctor/physician non-compete agreement enforceability to others within the medical profession. For example, in Columbus Med. Servs., LLC. V. David Thomas & Liberty Healthcare Corp. 308. S.W.3d 368 (Ct. App. Tennessee 2009) extended the physician-patient non-enforcement of the non-compete to therapists. Similarly, in Benchmark Med. Holdings, Inc. v. Barnes, 328 F. Supp. 2d 1236, 1249-50 (M.D. Ala. 2004), the court stated that “therapists are professional for the purpose of validity and applicability of non-competition agreements.” While these rulings may exist outside of Arizona, no court in Arizona has directly ruled on this issue.  

The Facts Matter

Whether a non-compete agreement is enforceable against physician’s assistants, nurses, or therapists is a fact-intensive inquiry. Valley Medical Specialists v. Farber, 982 P. 2d 1277, 1281 – (Ariz. 1999) To see if you have an enforceable non-compete, you should meet with an attorney who handles these types of non-compete agreements regularly. 

Contact Counxel Legal Firm

We would be happy to review your non-compete agreement and discuss whether it is enforceable or not. The best way to do this is to set up a strategy session. Contact us at 480-536-6122 or at

This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice for your specific situation. Use of and access to this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Counxel Legal Firm. Please contact or 480-536-6122 to request specific information for your situation.

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