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Why Employers Should Consider New York as Their Preferred Forum for Non-Compete Disputes

If you are an employer and must choose where to litigate your non-compete disputes, New York should be near the top of your list.

Simply put, New York is more employer-friendly than many other urban jurisdictions, and, from the pronouncements coming out of some prominent appellate courts across the country, it seems the trend is to be more employee-friendly.

Consider the recent decision in Fifield v. Premier Dealer Services, Inc., where the First District Illinois Appellate Court held that a non-compete agreement cannot be enforced against an employee unless the employee has worked for that company for two years, and was given some additional compensation - beyond being allowed to continue in his job - in exchange for agreeing to the non-compete clause.

Presumably - and judging by the many comments in the blogosphere about this decision - Illinois-based employers will try to satisfy or circumvent this rule by offering employees signing bonuses in exchange for agreeing to the non-compete.

For our purposes however, this misses the point, which is:

New York has (at least for now) no such requirements whatsoever; the non-compete can (at least theoretically) become binding upon signing, and without the need for an additional bonus payment to the employee.

Just something to consider when selecting the forum for litigating disputes over a non-compete clause.