Can My Employer Enforce a Non-compete Agreement in New York City?

What Should I Include in a Non-Compete Agreement for Employees in New York City?

New York City is a concrete jungle, and competition in the city is fierce. There are multiple vendors for almost every good and providers for almost every service imaginable within a few blocks of one another, so it is no surprise employers may worry their employees will leave for greener pastures at a competitor’s business with little or no notice. To prevent this, many employers require onboarding employees sign a restrictive covenant known as a non-compete agreement as part of their employment agreement when they begin a position at a company – especially if an employee will acquire a special skill, training, or knowledge during the course of employment. For employers, it is important to know what they can include in non-compete clauses and the what they mean for employers and employees.

Designating Competitors for Purposes of Non-Compete Agreements

When drawing up a non-compete agreement, there is nothing concrete limiting the scope an employer may choose when they are limiting the businesses and competition for whom an employee may later work. However, depending on the nature of your business, former employees may have few or no options if you are a niche industry or they have a very specific set of skills developed from their position at your company. Additionally, some former employees may not see certain companies as competitors even if you do – so to avoid uncertainty it can be helpful to include language listing specific skills, job duties, or companies you consider competitors in the non-compete clause.


In New York, non-compete agreements are vague in two very important areas – they are expected to last only a reasonable period of time and be applicable only within a reasonable distance from the location of your business. These reasonableness standards may seem innocuous on their face, but depending upon the structure of your particular non-compete clause your language can have serious consequences for employees looking to leave their your company and may also impact whether your restrictive covenant would be found reasonable if it faced legal challenges in the future.

Potential Employee Considerations

Employers should consider the language and provisions of their non-compete agreements carefully, because length of time as well as geographic area can have a significant impact not only on employees currently at your company, but on you as the employer when recruiting quality candidates to join your business. A non-compete agreement that lasts for a significant period of time and covers a large amount of territory could greatly affect someone’s ability to find a job for a long time in a small geographic area like New York City – a 20-mile geographic restriction could preclude an employee from hundreds or even thousands of future opportunities for years. Severe restrictions could cause you to lose excellent candidates for an open position if potential employees believe working for you would negatively affect their future career path. New York also encourages

New York Employment Law Attorneys

New York encourages job seekers to closely scrutinize all non-competes before signing them and agreeing to work, so consulting with an experienced New York employment attorney could help you find the right balance with your non-compete agreement to avoid losing valuable candidates while also protecting your business interests. At MOWK Law, we have the employment law experience you want writing or reviewing these important workplace documents. Give us a call today to learn how we can help.