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NYC Litigation Blog

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Should I Sign a Non-Compete Agreement?

Receiving that job offer can bring a wave of relief and trigger a great deal of excitement. In the midst of all this, remember to take care in reviewing the employment documents you are presented by your prospective employer. These documents can have powerful implications for your employment and post-employment life. A non-compete agreement, for instance, may be among the piles of paperwork you are presented with. A noncompete agreement is a contract between you and your employer in which you agree to certain restrictions on your ability to go and work for a competitor or engage in a business that competes with your employer both during and after your period of employment. This kind of contract can have a big impact on your career. So, take a moment to ask yourself whether or not you should sign a non-compete agreement.

Should I Sign a Non-Compete Agreement?

There are some states that do not recognize noncompete agreements as being valid. If you do not live in one of these states, however, an employer can require you to sign a noncompete agreement as a condition of employment. This means that, if you are set on a job, you will need to sign the agreement. It also means that if you are willing to do anything to get what you consider to be your dream job, you should sign the agreement.

While you may need to sign a noncompete agreement in order to secure the job you want, it does not necessarily mean that you should sign the document you are initially presented with by your future employer. You are well within your rights to try and negotiate the terms of the noncompete clause. This is especially true if the terms of the agreement seem unreasonably restrictive and, therefore, may be seen as legally invalid. Even in states where noncompete agreements are valid, reasonable terms are still required for them to be legally enforceable.

The terms of a noncompete agreement that should be reasonable and which you may want to negotiate with the employee about could include:

  • How competition is defined: You will want to be clear on how the agreement defines competition and what will count as competition. Competition refers to things such as what will qualify as a competing company. Should you leave your job and be restricted from engaging in employment with “competition” you want to be clear on what this means. A shorter list of competing companies means more opportunity for you to pursue employment opportunities. Additionally, a shorter list of competing companies is more likely to be recognized as valid by a court.
  • Geographical restrictions: Take a look at limitations on employment with competitors within a certain geographical area. The broader the geographical area included, the more restrictive the noncompete agreement, the more difficult it may be for you to find employment after leaving your job. A larger geographical area is also more likely to be challenged in court and declared unreasonably restrictive.
  • Length of enforcement: You will also want to note how long the restrictions of the noncompete clause will be in place. The shorter the time frame, the better the chance that the agreement will be found as legally valid.

Employment Law Attorney

A noncompete agreement can have an extensive impact on your ability to earn a living after leaving an employer. For any concerns, you may have with a noncompete agreement you have been asked to sign, talk to Thomas M. Lancia PLLC. Attorney Lancia can review the agreement to see if it is likely to be legally valid and can also advocate on your behalf in negotiating a less restrictive agreement. Attorney Lancia also has experiences in drafting noncompete agreements for employers that protect the employer’s interests without being overly burdensome on an employee. Contact us today.


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