A common tool that many companies use to maintain their presence in the marketplace is restrictive employment contracts. These contracts may prevent a worker from seeking employment with a competitor or require an employee to keep facts about their job and trade secrets confidential.
Even so, these agreements can have a substantial chilling effect on workers. After they leave a company, they may have trouble finding a new job in their area of expertise because of an overly broad non-compete agreement. Similarly, non-disclosure agreements may make it difficult to properly explain their roles during future job interviews. Thankfully, a New York non-disclosure and non-compete agreement lawyer works to represent the interests of either workers or employers who have concerns about these contracts. Our legal team stands up for the rights of workers to pursue new jobs and further their careers or could help companies to enforce these agreements after an apparent employee breach.
While it may appear that employers are free to present any restrictive covenant upon their workers, the fact is that non-compete agreements and other employment contracts are subject to strict legal scrutiny. Just because both parties sign an agreement does not mean that this agreement is valid in the eyes of the law.
The case of Installed Building Products, LLC v. Cottrell, No. 13-CV-1112-A (W.D.N.Y. Apr. 18, 2014) provides the applicable legal standard for evaluating the legality of non-compete agreements under state law. According to the court, a non-compete agreement is valid only if the employer can show that:
While these factors specifically apply to non-compete agreements in New York, the same legal evaluation occurs when determining the validity of all restrictive employment contracts, such as non-disclosure agreements. Additionally, courts evaluating these contracts will examine each example on a case-by-case basis. An attorney could help employees and employers in New York to examine proposed non-disclosure or non-compete agreements to determine if they are likely to carry weight in a courtroom.
If a company is asking a worker to sign a non-disclosure or non-compete agreement, it is almost certain that they will act to enforce those agreements if they suspect that a violation has occurred. In most examples, these contracts will contain specific remedies that a company may seek out in civil lawsuits that allege breaches of contract. Litigating matters concerning these allegations is another way in which a New York non-disclosure and non-compete agreement attorney may be able to help.
One possible avenue of defense for an employee is to contest the facts that led to the alleged breach. A thorough examination of the facts of the case may lead to doubts as to whether an employee disclosed restricted information or obtained employment within the scope of a non-compete clause. A lawyer could help to dispute the factual basis for a breach of contract case. When representing an employer, a lawyer works to demonstrate that the document fits within an appropriately limited scope and that it is necessary to protect a company’s data or client base.
It may also be possible to argue that the restrictive employment contract is per se illegal. This requires a full analysis under the legal standard mentioned above. A successful argument in these cases could see an outright dismissal of a demand for compensation by a civil court judge. An attorney works to develop a defense that best fits the facts and needs of each particular client.
Restrictive employment covenants such as non-compete or non-disclosure agreements are common for high-level workers in New York. Employers may require the signing of these contracts as a condition of employment. However, even if workers have signed a contract professing to include these restrictions, they may not be valid under state law.
A New York non-disclosure and non-compete agreement lawyer assists people like you when they suspect that an employment contract is illegal. They could also provide thorough representation on behalf of an employer if an alleged breach has occurred. Talking with an attorney today could help protect your rights in the present and the future. Reach out today to learn more.