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Q:
What is the employee choice doctrine and how does it apply to my New York non-compete agreement?

A:
If your employer had you sign a non-compete agreement, the company may have conditioned your right to receive certain post-employment benefits on your agreement to abide by the non-compete terms. In New York, courts have upheld the validity of these clauses, referred to as the employee choice doctrine. This doctrine is based on the premise that employees who resign or are fired from their jobs have a choice. They can either choose to receive post-employment compensation and remain in compliance with the terms of their non-compete agreements, or forfeit such compensation and have the ability to compete with their former employer.

If you recently resigned or were terminated from your position and are considering whether to accept post-employment compensation, it is important that you consult a New York non-compete lawyer to review your options. In general, the New York employee choice doctrine will apply to your existing non-compete agreement in the following manner:

Courts will uphold the non-compete agreement and not inquire into its reasonableness if the employee has a choice of either:
  • Working for a competitor and giving up certain benefits.
  • Accepting those benefits and not working for a competitor.

Therefore, you will have to weigh your options carefully following termination of your employment with a company. Since these options may vary given the facts and circumstances surrounding your employment, it is essential that you consult an experienced attorney to protect your legal rights. 

For more information about the employee choice agreements and the enforceability of non-compete agreements, contact a New York non-compete agreement attorney at (888) 497-3410.