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 foresee whether a judge will enforce a given non-compete agreement. Even if the employee's interests may be significant New York courts will certainly assign great weight to a person's freedom to choose the type of employment that is suitable for them. Accordingly, only those covenants which are deemed to be reasonable will be upheld by the court. A court will usually hold non-compete clauses to be unreasonable if they involve unusually long periods of time or if they cover a geographic region surrounding Newark that is excessively large.
Limitations on non-compete clauses must also be restricted to cover only competitors who are related in a reasonable way to the employer's industry. 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?
A Newark, New York lawyer can help you review the covenant before you sign any documents that might limit your rights. The lawyer can help you in negotiating modifications or if needed, they can possibly draft a new agreement which will be acceptable to both parties. An attorney can also give valuable advice when it comes to suing employees for breaching covenants, or counseling employees who have signed one regarding whether they can accept a different job.