Recently, popular cage fight promoter Strikeforce announced that its fighters were subject to non-compete agreements that prevent them from leaving the organization to fight for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The promoter is seeking to protect the significant financial investment it must make with regard to its fighters. Advertising costs are expensive. If a promoter spends time and money making its fighter a well-known entity, that promoter does not want the fighter to leave and go fight for a competitor as soon as he or she becomes successful.
While this might be a legitimate concern for the promoter, what about the interests of the fighter? After becoming successful, shouldn’t fighters be able to seek out a better contract with a different promoter, or use the threat of such a contract to negotiate better terms with their current promoter? For many fighters, these contracts are their livelihood.
Fighters who face an allegation of a breach of non-compete agreement in New York have several options for defending themselves. These include:
- Presenting evidence that they were fired without cause by the former promoter. In many cases when an employee has been involuntarily terminated, courts within the state have refused to enforce New York non-compete provisions.
- Demonstrating that the restrictions contained in the covenant go beyond merely protecting the “legitimate interest of the employer.” Does the promoter’s covenant go too far?
- Providing evidence that if the covenant were enforced, the result would be manifestly unfair.
- Demonstrating that the term of the non-compete is too long.
- Proving that the geographic scope of the non-compete extends too far.
Although the court might agree with the fighter that the covenant is unenforceable, there is the option to rewrite its terms to be fairer to both the promoter and the fighter.
To learn more about defending against an allegation of breach, contact an experienced New York non-compete agreement lawyer today. Call our office at (888) 497-3410 for a free consultation.