Non-Compete Clauses Under New York Law
If you've come to this page, chances are that you are here for one of three (3) reasons:
- Your former employer has sued - or is threatening to sue - over the purported violation of a non-compete clause in your employment agreement;
- You're thinking of leaving your current job - either to start your own business or to work for someone else, but want/need some clarity whether you are barred from doing so by the non-compete clause in your contract; or,
- Your former employee has been poaching your clients and/or customers, and you want to know whether that employee's non-compete agreement is enforceable, and if so, what your legal rights are.
THE COLD, HARD TRUTHS
- New York's courts dislike non-compete agreements. And lest you think that this is some sort of "unofficial" policy, let me disabuse you of that notion; the courts have expressly said that they will look to invalidate these clauses. "Why?" you ask. Because the courts favor a free market economy, where both people and ideas flow and gravitate toward their (hopefully) most profitable ends. And that means allowing someone to change jobs, and to use those skills that were gained and mastered to earn a greater paycheck. On the other hand ...
- The Courts will Protect an Employer's Legitimate Proprietary Interests. While it is true that NY's courts are loathe to enforce a non-compete, there are circumstances where they are obliged to do so, in order to assure a level playing field in the business arena, and disallowing unfair competition or tortious interference by current or former employees or competitors.