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New York Attorney General acts on non-compete agreements

Two recent rulings by the New York Attorney General have eased restrictions regarding non-compete agreements between employees and employers in the state of New York. A non-compete agreement is typically part of the contract between an employer and employee that may restrict where an employee may work following employment with his or her existing company. Generally, they are done to protect an employer's product or services from ex-employees who may use his or her knowledge, contacts and resources against their previous employers.

Non-compete agreements have come under recent fire by the United States Treasury Department and the White house, who claim that provisions often "hurt worker welfare, job mobility, business dynamics, and economic growth." In one case, employees had restrictions eased that would not have allowed them to work for a direct competitor for up to a year following their employment with the previous company. In the other case, a franchised company will no longer require employees sign a non-compete provision, and will no longer include such provisions in their franchisee's hiring packets.

In both instances, the New York Attorney General deemed the provisions "unconscionable", and focused on lower-wage earning employees who had little to no knowledge about trade secrets or information that would be considered a threat if the employee were to work for a competitor. Higher level employees with stronger connections, knowledge and resources are more likely to held to non-compete agreements, as working for a competitor is more likely to negatively impact his or her previous employer.

If you are involved in an employment dispute, it may be in your best interest to protect yourself and your rights by seeking advice from a law professional. With employers supplying themselves with a strong legal presence in court, having your own seasoned team who deal with employment law may be the difference between winning and losing your case.

Source:, "The New York Attorney General's Crackdown On Non-Compete Agreements: What It Means for Companies," By Richard J. Rabin, Lauren Helen Leyden, R.D. Kohut, Anastasia Marie Kerdock, and Desiree E. Busching, Accessed on Sept. 13, 2016

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