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Law Offices of Jonathan M. Cooper

Q:
My company demoted me. Can I leave to work for a competitor without breaching my non-compete agreement in New York?

A:

Under New York contract law, companies must meet a high standard to enforce a non-compete agreement. Courts generally do not want to impose upon an employee’s ability to earn a living. Therefore, to succeed in a non-compete claim, the employer will have to demonstrate several factors. This includes showing that the employee is a “key employee.”

If you were demoted from your position and accepted a role with a competing business, the court may consider the following when determining whether a breach of a non-compete in New York has taken place:

  • Did the demotion prevent you from using your knowledge and talents in your field?
  • Are you a unique employee with a specialized skill set?
  • Is it possible for your former employer to replace you?
  • Has direct and ongoing damage to the operations, reputation, or goodwill of the employer taken place?

The court may consider each of these questions, in conjunction with the facts and circumstances surrounding your non-compete agreement, when deciding whether a breach has occurred. Generally, the standard the employer must meet to enforce the non-compete is considered high. Therefore, if you wish to leave your current position to work for a competitor, it may be possible even without risking persecution.

Breach of non-compete agreements is a complex area of the law that requires the guidance of an experienced professional. Contact an experienced New York non-compete attorney today for more information about this and other business litigation matters. Call our office at (888) 497-3410 for a consultation.