Employment, Non-Compete & Severance Contracts
In New York, your employment is at will. This means your employment can be terminated by you or your employer at any time and for any reason that is not prohibited by law (for example, for a discriminatory reason).
Nevertheless, your employer may ask or require that you sign an agreement that governs the terms and conditions of your employment and/or restricts your freedom to work after your employment terminates.
Generally, an employment contract will provide for the compensation to be paid and the term or length of the employment. Other provisions of the agreement may cover:
- The duties of the position
- the means or manner in which the relationship will terminate or renew
- deferred compensation
- bonus compensation
- expense reimbursement
- vacation pay
- non-solicitation of customers and/or employees
- invention ownership
You can be sure that your employer’s lawyer had a hand in drafting the employment contract in a manner that is most favorable to his or her client – your employer. Therefore, it is very important that you have an experienced employment lawyer review the contract before you sign it so that you can be assured you understand its terms and are in a position to even the playing field and protect your interests.
A non-compete agreement seeks to prohibit an employee from working for a competitor of the employer after their employment ends. It typically dictates the geographic area and industry where the prohibition against working applies.
These type of agreements, also known as restrictive covenants, are disfavored as a matter of public policy in New York because they interfere with an individual’s ability to earn a living. Nevertheless, a reasonable non-compete agreement will be enforced if it is carefully drafted. Generally, such a restrictive covenant will be deemed reasonable and enforceable if it (1) is no greater than is required for the protection of the legitimate interests of the employer; (2) does not impose an undue hardship on the employee, and (3) is not injurious to the public.
Whether a non-compete agreement will be enforced by the courts in New York depends on the nature of the employer’s business and the services performed by the employee. Therefore, it is very important that you have an experienced employment lawyer review any agreement containing a non-compete provision before you sign it.
New York law does not require employers to provide severance or termination pay to employees.
Nevertheless, employers may offer a severance package to terminated employees for a variety of reasons. Chief among these reasons is the concern about a lawsuit by the terminated employee. Therefore, almost all severance agreements have a release provision stating that, in exchange for the severance payment, the employee releases the employer from any potential claims he or she may have against the company. In other words, you are giving up the right to sue your employer for any claims you might have, whether you know about them or not.
Therefore, it is very important that you have experienced employment lawyer review your severance agreement before you sign it to ensure you understand its terms; to determine whether you have a claim; and whether the compensation you are being paid to release the employer from those claims is fair.
Long Island New York Contract Attorney
If you have been presented an employment, non-compete or severance agreement by your employer, it is very important that you have an experienced employment lawyer review and explain its terms before you sign it. Call or contact us online immediately for a FREE consultation.
The Law Office of Ralph A. Somma
Working to Enforce Workplace Rights.