New York Attorney General Releases: Non-Compete Agreements In New York State: Frequently Asked Questions


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.