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?
Whether or not a judge will conclude that the covenant is enforceable can be difficult to know beforehand. 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. 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 West Point that is excessively large.
Non-compete clauses are also limited in that they can only apply to competitors who are reasonably related to the industry of the employer. Lastly, there must be a legitimate 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?
Before signing anything that may restrict your rights, you may want to hire a West Point, New York attorney to review the contract. A lawyer can then negotiate to modify the covenant as needed, or may even draft a new one that is acceptable to both parties A lawyer can also render useful advice for employers who are considering suing an employee for breach of covenant, or they can counsel employees who have signed such an agreement.