New York employers have been increasingly using non-compete agreements in employment contracts. In addition to bringing litigation against employers to address the use and abuse of overly broad non-compete agreements, the New York Attorney General recently released: Non-Compete Agreements In New York State: Frequently Asked Questions.
Beyond providing a helpful overview of the legal limits on non-compete agreements under New York law, the FAQ advises New York employees to take several steps and ask several questions before signing any non-compete agreement:
Before signing a non-compete
1. Before accepting a new job, ask the employer if you will have to sign a non-compete.
2. Before signing, make sure you read and understand any document that an employer asks you to sign.
3. Remember that a non-compete is a contract and that you can try to negotiate its terms.
Consider these questions before signing:
• What businesses are considered competitors? A non-compete may not be enforceable if the definition of a competitor is too broad or prevents you from working in an entire sector or industry.
• How long does the non-compete period last? Non-competes should be limited in time.
• What geographic area does it cover? Is the geographic scope so large that you might have to move to get a job with another employer in the industry?
• Are you getting anything in exchange for signing the non-compete? For example, some employers provide a bonus or specialized training, guarantee employment for a certain time, or provide payment for some or all of the non-compete period in exchange for signing a non-compete.
• Can you have a lawyer review the language and advise you on its potential consequences or negotiate with the employer on your behalf?
Whether you’re considering signing a non-compete or already signed one, New York law may limit the enforceability of your non-compete agreement. Obtaining legal advice regarding your specific non-compete can be essential to protecting your rights following your departure from an employer.