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 when leaving the company. Such agreements are also known by the term "non-compete clauses". Signing such an agreement can either be a condition for being employed, or the employee may receive additional compensation for doing so.
When are Covenants not to Compete Unenforceable?
It is difficult to discern whether a judge will enforce a given non-compete agreement. While employer's interest are important, the courts of New York also put a high level of importance on a person's ability to pursue their desired employment opportunities. Consequently, a court will generally only uphold non-compete clauses which under the circumstances are considered to be reasonable. A court will typically hold non-compete clauses to be unreasonable if they involve unusually long periods of time or if they cover a geographic region surrounding Kaser that is excessively large.
Non-compete clauses are also limited in that they may only apply to competitors who are rationally related to the industry of the employer. Lastly, an employer is required to have a legitimate business reason in its motivation for imposing a covenant not to compete on an employee.
Do I Need an Attorney when Dealing with a Covenant not to Compete?
Before signing anything that may restrict your rights, you might want to hire a Kaser, New York attorney to review the contract. A lawyer can then negotiate to modify the covenant as needed, or might even draft a new one that is acceptable to both parties Attorneys can provide valuable counseling to employers who are contemplating suing an employer who breached a covenant not to compete. They can also assist employees who have signed an agreement limiting their employment options.