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Law Offices of Jonathan M. Cooper

Q:
Am I bound by the terms of my New York non-compete agreement if its terms state that the non-compete lasts for a term of 10 years?

A:

Unfortunately for all parties to a non-compete agreement in New York, it is often difficult to tell whether the provision will stand up in court. There is no clear black-and-white rule for what kind of non-compete is enforceable and what is not. Each provision is assessed based on the facts and circumstances surrounding the agreement. For this reason, it is always best to seek the guidance of an experienced business litigation attorney in New York before entering into any non-compete agreement. 

Generally speaking, the court will look at four criteria when determining the validity of this restrictive covenant:

  • Does the agreement go too far? New York courts will only uphold non-competes that protect a “legitimate interest of the employer,” but no more than that.
  • Is the agreement overly broad or unfair to the employee?
  • Is the restriction harmful to the public?
  • Does the agreement cover too wide of a geographic area, and are the restrictions in place for too long of a term?

While it may seem like 10 years is an excessive term for you to be prevented from working for a competitor of your former employer, you should not assume that the provision would be found invalid. Breaching an enforceable non-compete agreement could cost you significantly if your former employer pursues an action against you. Therefore, instead of assuming the contract is invalid, and before taking any further action that could result in a breach, contact an experienced New York non-compete agreement attorney. Call our office today at (888) 497-3410 for a free consultation.