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How Do Non-Compete Agreements Work?

In the midst of starting a new job, you’ll likely receive a non-compete agreement to sign from your new employer. This is standard in all industries and all levels of employment. In some cases, you might not think too much about your agreement, but as with any legally binding contract, you can’t be too careful. A non-compete agreement can limit what opportunities are available to you in the future and can be more complicated than you realize. This makes it so important that you understand what you’re signing.

Non-compete agreements are intended to help businesses prevent their competitors from learning trade secrets after an employee leaves the company. While these are intended to help protect a business, they can sometimes hurt the employee.

Learn more about how these agreements work.

What Information Does a Non-Compete Agreement Contain?

You might understand that a non-compete agreement prevents you from working with your employer’s competitors, but what exactly does that entail? There are a few different elements that you should review in your agreement before signing. While the exact details of a non-compete agreement may vary, here are a few important pieces of information you need to look over:

  • The names of the parties signing the agreement.
  • How you will be compensated for signing the agreement, such as employing you.
  • When the terms of the agreement will begin.
  • The purpose of the agreement.
  • The geographical scope that the agreement applies to.
  • How long the agreement is in effect.

If your non-compete agreement is vague and doesn’t contain the proper terms and conditions to protect you in the future, you may be able to negotiate with the help of an employment lawyer before signing.

Do You Have to Sign a Non-Compete Agreement?

When a non-compete agreement seems too strict and makes you concerned about your future job prospects, you might be wondering if you can refuse to sign it. Although your employer cannot force you to sign the agreement, they can fire you for refusing to do so. New York is an at-will employment state, so unless your termination was based on illegal discrimination or retaliation, they’re in their legal right to fire you.

What Limitations Do Non-Compete Agreements Have?

While non-compete agreements are enforceable in New York, they do have limitations. Because of this, there may be some occasions where an agreement is not enforceable. Non-compete agreements have to manage to be strict enough that they protect the business’s interests, but they still need to be fair to the employee. For employees in New York state, a non-compete agreement is valid if the following criteria are met:

  1. The agreement protects the business’s legitimate interests.
  2. The agreement does not cause undue hardship for the employee.
  3. It does not harm the public.
  4. It has a reasonable time period and geographic scope.

If a non-compete agreement is found to be too severe and makes it difficult for an employee to find employment in their field, the court may determine that elements of the agreement are unenforceable.

Contact an Employee Rights Attorney for Assistance

Knowing what your rights are surrounding legal agreements can be difficult. However, when your future employment opportunities are put at risk, you need to ensure you have a valid non-compete agreement with clear terms and conditions. Doing this alone can be challenging, which is why you need the help of a New York City employee rights attorney from Bantle & Levy.

Contact us today if you have concerns about your non-compete agreement.

Bantle & Levy

Lee Bantle is a partner at Bantle & Levy LLP. He has extensive legal expertise, admitted to the bars of the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals. With a distinguished academic background and clerkship experience, he has been recognized as a top-rated civil rights attorney and esteemed lawyer. In addition to his successful career, he has actively contributed to various legal organizations and serves as a faculty member for NYU's Annual Workshop on Employment Law for Federal Judges.

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