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?
Whether or not a judge will conclude that the covenant is enforceable can be challenging to know beforehand. Although the interests of employers are significant, courts in New York also give importance 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. Those agreements that courts have seen to be unreasonable include those that last for an prolonged period of time or cover geographic areas around Rockland County that are unreasonably large.
The agreements must also deal only with those competitors whose line of employment is reasonably related to the previous employer's. Finally, there must be a valid business interest which motivates the employer's mandating a covenant not to compete.
Do I Need an Attorney when Dealing with a Covenant not to Compete?
A Rockland County, New York lawyer can help you review the covenant before you sign any provisions 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. A lawyer can also render useful advice for employers who are contemplating suing an employee for breach of covenant, or they can counsel employees who have signed such an agreement.