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Are Non-Competes Enforceable For Independent Contractors?


There are many great reasons to be an independent contractor. You can have the flexibility that others don’t have, such as being able to choose where you work from and the hours you work. You get to be your own boss as an independent contractor, but you may still have some complications that you need to handle. For example, you may be asked to sign a non-compete agreement for the company you’re working with.

If you’re asked to sign a non-compete agreement, you might be worried about what that will do to your future opportunities as an independent contractor. You also might be wondering if non-compete agreements are even enforceable for independent contractors.

Problems With Non-Competes for Independent Contractors

In a non-compete agreement, you might have to agree not to work for the company’s competitors. This can become an issue for both employees of the company and the independent contractors they hire to work on different projects. However, as an independent contractor, you might not be planning to stay with one company for an extended period of time and intend on finding work with other companies in the near future. Signing a non-compete agreement like this can make it difficult for independent contractors to find new work, which can cause serious issues for them and could require an employment lawyer.

In some cases, a non-compete can also change the classification of an independent contractor. A non-compete can cause an independent contractor to be more of an employee to the company. This could entitle the independent contractor to more benefits from the company than they would have had without the non-compete agreement, which can lead to problems for the company.

When are Non-Competes Unenforceable?

There are several reasons a non-compete may be unenforceable for both employees and independent contractors. Non-compete agreements in New York are only enforceable if it is necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate interests, doesn’t cause undue hardship for the employee/contractor, doesn’t harm the public, and has a reasonable time period and geographic scope.

As an independent contractor who needs to work with various companies for a living, preventing you from working with companies who may be this company’s competitors could cause undue hardship for you. For example, if you’re an independent contractor in a niche market, there may only be so many companies to work with, and a non-compete can severely limit the work you can do. Because of this, many non-compete agreements are unenforceable for independent contractors. However, there may be other agreements that can be enforced for independent contractors, such as non-disclosure agreements and non-solicitation agreements. Agreements like these can help protect a business’s interests without putting undue hardship on the independent contractor.

What to Do When You Need Help with a Non-Compete Agreement

Whether you’re a seasoned independent contractor or you’ve just recently started being your own boss, you know how important it is for someone in your role to stand up for themselves and ensure you aren’t being taken advantage of. Fortunately, this isn’t something you always have to do on your own. When you’re worried about a non-compete agreement, the best thing you can do to protect your interests is to get legal help. An experienced lawyer can help determine whether or not your non-compete agreement is enforceable. At Brown Kwon & Lam, we can help with any concerns you have about a non-compete agreement as an independent contractor.

If you’re having issues with a non-compete agreement and are worried about how it will affect your future, don’t wait to get help. Contact our employment lawyers in New York City to find out how we can help.