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. 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 Southold 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. Finally, the employer must have a legitimate 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 might want to hire a Southold, New York lawyer to review the covenant before signing any provisions 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. When it comes to suing an employee for breach of a non-compete clause, an attorney can provide valuable advice. They will also be able to counsel employees who need advice for a covenant they have signed.