Q: Does my company have a “legitimate business interest” for enforcing a New York non-compete clause against me?
Under New York business law, non-compete agreements are highly scrutinized. This is because the courts seek to support the free-market economy. Employees should have the ability to use their skills and experience to seek employment and support themselves. In some cases, however, the courts will allow a non-compete agreement in New York. If the company is protecting a legitimate business interest, and the clause is otherwise reasonable, it may be enforceable.
Every non-compete clause is analyzed based upon its own unique facts and circumstances. Examples of scenarios that may support a claim that a non-compete clause is valid because the employer had to protect a legitimate business interest include the following:
- An employee who could take advantage of existing relationships within the company or with its clients, resulting in harm to the company.
- An employee with vital information that was acquired as a result of being employed by the company who could use this information to harm the company. This could include information about the company’s processes, relationships, devices, or inventions.
- An employer who has invested substantial resources into training an employee, only to have the employee take that training to a competitor and use it for the competitor’s benefit.
While New York courts will actively look to invalidate a non-compete agreement, there are times when enforcing such a provision is necessary to protect the legitimate business interest of the organization. In these cases, the clause may be enforced against the employee. To learn more, contact an experienced New York business litigation lawyer today. Call our office at (888) 497-3410 for a free consultation.