Can we enforce noncompetes against staff we’ve laid off? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Can we enforce noncompetes against staff we’ve laid off?

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Q. Due to the competitive nature of our business, our sales force signs restrictive covenant agreements that prohibit them from working for a competitor for a six- month period. We are about to lay off some of these employees for lack of business. Is the covenant enforceable?

A. In New York, a restrictive covenant is not enforceable if the employer is unwilling, without cause, to continue to employ the employee. In other words, if you discharge the employee because of some work-related reason such as poor work or rule violations, or if the employee quits, you can enforce the agreement.

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