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New York Non-Compete Agreements: Clarity is Key

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Jonathan Cooper
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When it comes to the enforceability of a New York non-compete agreement, it is vital that the provisions be written clearly to avoid being overturned. A recent Florida case involving a veterinary practice illustrates the importance of clearly written non-compete provisions. If you are attempting to impose a non-compete upon your employees, or if you are an employee subject to such a provision, contact a New York business litigation lawyer for guidance.

In the Florida non-compete case, a veterinary practice hired an equine veterinarian under a one-year employment agreement. The contract contained a non-compete provision, which aimed to prevent the employee from opening up her own practice within a 30-mile radius for a period of two years following her termination. When the term of her employment ended, she subsequently opened up her own competing practice more than 30 miles away. Several former clients followed her to the new practice. While the former practice argued that the intent of the provision prevented the employee from soliciting any of its past, present, or prospective clients, the court found in favor of the employee. It held that based upon the written terms of the non-compete, since her new practice was more than thirty miles away from the former practice, she was not in violation of the provision.

This case serves as an example to New York businesses of the importance of a clearly written contract. Generally, for a New York non-compete provision to be enforceable, it must:
  • not go beyond that which is needed to protect the employer’s “legitimate interest”;
  • not be overly broad;
  • not be “injurious to the public”; and
  • be reasonably limited with regard to time and geographic scope.

This area of the law is complex and requires the expertise of an experienced professional. For more information about clearly written non-compete agreements, contact a New York non-compete agreement lawyer at (888) 497-3410.

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