Generally speaking, in New York, a covenant not to compete means that the employee will agree not to work for any of their employer's competitors upon leaving the company. Such agreements are also known by the term "non-compete clauses". Signing such an agreement may either be a condition for being employed, or the employee may receive additional compensation for doing so.
When are Covenants not to Compete Unenforceable?
Whether a given judge will enforce a non-compete agreement is difficult to know in advance. Although the interests of employers are important, courts in New York also give priority to an employee's freedom to choose the type of employment that they desire. As a result, courts usually uphold only those covenants that are consider to be reasonable according to the circumstances. Terms contained in a covenant not to compete will be struck down by a court as unreasonable if they bind the employee for an excessively long period of time or if they cover an unreasonably large geographic area around Albany County.
Limitations on non-compete clauses must also be restricted to cover only competitors who are related in a rational way to the employer's industry. Lastly, the employer must have a valid business interest behind its motivation for mandating a covenant not to compete.
Do I Need an Attorney when Dealing with a Covenant not to Compete?
You may want to hire an Albany County, New York lawyer to review the covenant before signing any agreements that may limit or restrict your rights. The lawyer will then be able to negotiate any modifications to the contract as needed, or they can even draft a new one should it be required by one or both parties. Attorneys can provide valuable counseling to employers who are considering suing an employer who breached a covenant not to compete. They can also assist employees who have signed an agreement limiting their employment options.