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?
It is difficult to discern whether a judge will enforce a given non-compete agreement. While employer's interest are significant, 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. 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 Lawrence.
The agreements must also deal only with those competitors whose line of employment is rationally related to the previous employer's. 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?
Before you sign any provisions that could restrict your rights, you may consider hiring a Lawrence, New York attorney who can review the covenant. The attorney can negotiate modifications to the contract if they are needed, and can draft a new clause which is acceptable to the parties involved. When it comes to suing an employee for breach of a non-compete clause, an attorney can give valuable advice. They will also be able to counsel employees who need advice for a covenant they have signed.