In the present competitive job market, many employers seek to improperly limit competition by their former employees by offering jobs that are conditioned upon the employee signing an agreement that contains post-employment restrictive covenants. These covenants can have a disastrous impact on the employee’s ability to obtain subsequent employment in his or her chosen field.
The courts in New Jersey have held that non-compete clauses may be upheld only if (a) the restrictions are designed to protect the employer’s legitimate business interests and (b) the restrictions do not unduly limit the employee from earning a living.
Just last week, a client consulted with Gary E. Roth, head of Javerbaum Wurgaft’s employment law department, regarding a provision in his employment contract that set forth post-employment restrictions. The restrictions included a “non-compete “clause that sought to bar the client from working for any competitor of his employer for 12 months after the client left that employer, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. The client, a 25-year-old who at the time that he signed the agreement was out of work and would have signed anything offered by the employer, now desired to accept a better offer from a competitor. The client was faced with the excruciating choice of rejecting the competitor’s offer or accepting and possibly being sued by his current employer for violating the non-compete. Although this client had a satisfactory resolution of the issue, the moral of the story is that, despite being anxious to accept a job offer, one must be very careful about signing contracts that have unduly burdensome restrictions.
If you have any employment issue – – pre-employment or post-employment contract review, wrongful discharge, harassment in the workplace, etc. – – call the Employment Department at Javerbaum Wurgaft; they are here to help.