It is common practice for many employees to sign a non-compete agreement upon their hiring. However, many wonder how legally binding these documents are, and how employees can fight them if they are too restrictive to future employment opportunities. The New York employment attorneys of Brown Kwon & Lam explain.
What is a Non-Compete Agreement?
A non-competition agreement prohibits an employee from working for a competitor or opening a competing business for a certain period of time after an employee leaves a job. A non-compete can be a stand-alone document or be included in the employment contract.
Are Non-Competes enforceable?
Non-compete agreements are permitted and enforceable in New York state to a degree. In order for the non-compete to be valid, it must:
- Be necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate interests;
- Does not impose an undue hardship on the employee;
- Does not harm the public; and
- Is reasonable in the time period and geographic scope
In general, an employer’s legitimate business may include protecting confidential information such as trade secrets and taking job skills to an employer that is specific and specialized in that company.
However, the non-compete must not be so restrictive that an employee can never find new employment. 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.
However, if only parts of the agreement are too restrictive, the court will only enforce parts of the non-compete agreement. In general, however, if the non-compete has flaws or is unreasonable, the court may invalidate the entire agreement.
Do I have to sign?
There is not a law saying you have to sign a New York non-compete agreement. However, your employer can make you sign one before starting work which may lead to signing a ridiculously limiting contract.
What should I know before signing a non-compete agreement?
Prior to starting a new job, there are a few things you should ask your new employer before signing a non-compete agreement and understand the terms. These items include:
- Can you negotiate the terms if something seems unfair?
- What businesses are considered competitors?
- How long does the non-compete last once you leave?
- What geographic area/regions does it cover?
- Will you be compensated for signing the non-compete?
- Can you have a lawyer review the language?
Remember, this contract can dictate your future. Don’t sign it and forget. Take the time to review the terms of the non-compete agreement so you are protected now and in the future. If you have questions surrounding the validity of a non-compete agreement you have already signed, the employment attorneys of Brown Kwon & Lam can review your employment contract and determine your legal rights.
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 in New York state, 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.