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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 30176
Experience:  Former judicial law clerk, lawyer
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Hello, I was recently hired at Company B after working at Company

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Hello, I was recently hired at Company B after working at Company A for over 10 years, and I have about 20 years experience in Personal Care, Cosmetics & Food packaging. Company B requires all new employees to sign a non-compete stating that you cannot work for any company which competes with Company B for a period of 1 year. After just 7 weeks at Company B, it is clear that the person leading my department led me to believe the job would be something different and that there would be much more support from my boss. This "leader" is deceptive, unreasonable and unprofessional, so I am already talking to HR and to headhunters about other positions. Even though I don't work in an innovation job, so I haven't really been exposed to any trade secrets or new concepts, I am concerned about whether the non-compete will hurt my chances of finding another job. I cannot return to Company A (since it competes directly) nor any cosmetic or personal care company, which is what I know best and where all my contacts are. I can only work in Foods or something I don't know well, which seems that would limit my salary. After only 7 weeks at this company and already having gone to HR about my issues, what are your thoughts on Company B enforcing the non-compete?

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation.

As a general rule, New York does not like non-compete agreements. See
XXXXX, XXXXXs Assocs., Inc. v. Strauman, 40 N.Y.2d 303, 307 (1976). However, a non-compete may be enforced if it is reasonable. That means that it must be reasonably limited in duration, scope, not impose any undue hardship on the employee and not be more restrictive than is necessary to protect the employer's legitimate business interests. Trade secrets of other confidential information may be protected. An employer may also have a business interest in keeping an employee with unique or extraordinary talents. You stated that you have no access to trade secrets or confidential information, which can weigh in your favor. The employer must prove that the non-compete is reasonable.

Courts have consistently upheld restrictions of six months or less. Whether a one-year restriction is considered reasonable depends on the specific facts of your case. If there are no geographic restrictions, and you are prohibited from working for any company, anywhere in the world that competes with Company B, that may be considered unreasonable. Typically, a non-compete can only restrict employment in areas where the company does business (if they operate in every market worldwide, that could be a little different).

The fact that it doesn't sound like they put in a geographic restriction and that you don't have access to any trade secrets could both work in your favor if they tried to enforce the non-compete.

Probably the best way to determine how a judge would rule in your case is to have a local attorney do research, based on the exact terms of your agreement and the specific facts relevant to your employer, to find similar case and see what courts have said. That type of in-depth research is unfortunately beyond the scope of this site. Another option is to try to negotiate a resolution with Company B where they agree to let you out of the non-compete in exchange for some other benefit, or where you agree to pay them some amount in order to be released. Depending on what you do, sometimes the new company will help with negotiations.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
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