Can a Non-Compete Agreement Keep You from Getting a Better Job?

You work endless months, and sometimes years, to develop your skills. You believe those skills are your best asset to help you find another, better paying job. However, if you are like one in five U.S. employees, you may be in for a rude awakening. Your current employer may have inserted a clause in your employment contract known as a non-compete agreement. The terms of that agreement could prevent you from changing jobs.

Understanding Restrictions in Non-Compete Agreements

When you go to work for a new employer, particularly if you are working in high-tech or other highly competitive industries, your employer may ask you to sign a non-compete agreement. Unfortunately, these contracts often contain onerous clauses which could prevent you from changing jobs. Employers will attempt to limit you from going to work for a competing company on a permanent basis, regardless of their geographical location. This could be problematic for you, and for your career.

New York Steps up to Protect Employees

New York's Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, has forced some potential changes in how employers are allowed to use these agreements. Under the terms of a settlement reached in a high-profile case, he demanded employers have good cause to request a non-compete agreement and they limit the scope of the agreements.

Specifically, the new rules would place certain restrictions on employers who wish to use a non-compete agreement. For example, any employer who requests an employee to sign such an agreement must have a legitimate business interest. These agreements cannot be designed in such a way to prohibit employees from taking another job just because they happen to be seeking employment with another employer in the same field. This of course does not free employees to share confidential, or internal company information with their new employer.

Under the new rules, employers must also place new limits on the time frames these agreements are enforceable and limit the geographic enforcement. For example, a New York employer would have a hard time justifying preventing an employee from seeking employment with a competing company in California.

All Employees Are at Risk

While the example we used was employees in the high-tech industry, it is important to note these agreements are not always limited to technology companies. In most cases, employers limit the use of these agreements to those who are in key management, or highly competitive fields, but this is not always the case. Many employees only learn they agreed to one of these restrictive clauses once they have left a company for another job.

Contact an Attorney for Help

For those who are new to the New York labor market, these new restrictions are very beneficial. There may hundreds of thousands of people in New York who may have signed a New York non-compete agreement two, three, or five years, or more ago who are unaware of the restrictions they could be facing. Anyone who is considering changing jobs, who has signed a New York non-compete agreement, should meet with an employment law attorney and ask them to review any agreement you signed. Thanks to the new guidelines, it may be possible to have the onerous clauses waived.

Contact the Law Office of Christopher Q. Davis today at (646) 430-7930 and let him put his skills and knowledge to work helping you fight back against a non-compete agreement so you can move forward with your career.