Non-Compete Agreement | Can I Be Fired For Refusing to Sign

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Can I Be Fired For Refusing to Sign The Non-Compete?

Posted April 1, 2021 | Employment Law

Employers will implement non-compete agreements for a variety of reasons, including the protection of the employer’s legitimate business interests. However, when being asked to sign this agreement, you may feel like it limits your ability to seek other employment opportunities. And, if you refuse to sign, could you be terminated? The answer will largely depend on the factors surrounding your case. However, if you have been fired for refusing to sign a non-compete agreement, here is what you need to consider.

#1. If you refused to sign the non-compete and your employment offer was rescinded.

While your New York employer cannot require you to sign a non-compete agreement, it is completely legal that they rescind your employment offer or terminate you if the agreement was given after you had already started working.

However, if your employer uses the non-compete as a reason to terminate you, but there have been discriminatory practices taking place–like the non-compete was very specific to only some employees, making it difficult for anyone to willingly sign–you may have a wrongful termination case.

#2. You refused to sign the non-compete because it was too limiting to future career opportunities.

New York has very specific rules on the enforceability of non-compete agreements. In fact, they are only enforceable if they are:

  • Necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate interests,
  • Do not impose an undue hardship on the employee;
  • Do not harm the public; and
  • Reasonable in the time period and geographic scope.

To test the enforceability of the non-compete agreement, the court will review the employee’s job duties, the company’s business interests, and the language of the agreement to ensure it is not completely restrictive to future employment.

#3. You were asked to sign after you had already started employment with the company.

If you were asked to sign a non-compete agreement after already having started working for the employer, it is legal. However, if your employer takes adverse action against you because you choose not to sign, the legality becomes very case-by-case specific.

The first factor of consideration is if the non-compete would have been enforceable in the first place under New York laws. Secondly, the court will need to determine if you felt coerced into signing and if you were offered money to do so. Should the court feel as though you were taken advantage of or treated unfairly because of the terms of the agreement, you will have a case.

The enforceability of non-competes can be very difficult, especially if your industry is highly competitive. However, your rights to future employment prospects should not be so restricted that you feel stuck staying in a job you don’t want, or in an environment where you do not feel appreciated.

If you have concerns about your non-compete agreement or any action taken against you for refusing to sign, Brown Kwon & Lam can help you through the process.

Enforceability of New York Non-Compete Agreements: Brown Kwon & Lam

New York non-compete agreements can be complicated and can greatly impact your future employment. If you have concerns about your non-compete agreement, contact the employment contract attorneys of Brown Kwon & Lam. We will review the terms and make sure your rights are not being violated. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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