As Risman & Risman, P.C., we appreciate that the complexities of the employment landscape can be overwhelming. One such complexity is the issue of non-solicitation agreements. These agreements are contracts, typically part of an employment contract, where an employee promises not to solicit the employer’s customers or employees for their benefit or a new employer’s benefit after leaving the company.
We understand that navigating the intricacies of non-solicitation agreements can be challenging, especially without a comprehensive knowledge of New Jersey employment law. This page aims to provide a fundamental understanding of non-solicitation agreements and their role in your employment.
Understanding Non-Solicitation Agreements
Employers believe non-solicitation agreements serve as protective measures for employers to safeguard their business interests. They think they prevent former employees from taking advantage of established relationships cultivated during their tenure at the company. The general premise is to restrict the employee from leveraging these relationships to the detriment of the former employer.
If an agreement is overly restrictive and unrelated to protecting legitimate business interests, it might be deemed unenforceable. However, to be enforceable in New Jersey, non-solicitation agreements must be reasonable and not unduly burdensome to the employee. This includes being reasonable in geographic scope and duration and necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate business interests.
Non-Solicitation of Customers
Non-solicitation agreements often include clauses that prohibit former employees from soliciting the company’s customers or clients. This is often done to protect the employer’s business, especially in industries where customer relationships are vital to the company’s success. For example, if you were working for a software company and signed a non-solicitation agreement, you could be legally bound not to approach the software company’s clients for a certain period after leaving the company.
Non-Solicitation of Employees
Non-solicitation agreements also include clauses restricting former employees from recruiting their former colleagues. This aims to prevent an employee from leaving a company to start a competing business or join a competitor and then trying to recruit their former colleagues, potentially disrupting the former employer’s business.
Balancing Employer’s Interest and Employee’s Right to Earn a Living
New Jersey courts strive to balance the employer’s legitimate business interests and the employee’s right to earn a living. Courts are likely to consider factors such as the nature of the employee’s job, the length of the restriction, the geographic scope, and the nature of the activities prohibited. The courts also consider whether the agreement places an undue hardship on the employee or is injurious to the public.
As an employee, it is crucial to understand that while your employer has a right to protect their business, this should not excessively curtail your right to work. For instance, a non-solicitation agreement that prevents an employee from working in their industry anywhere in the world for ten years would likely be viewed as overly restrictive by a New Jersey court.
Know Your Rights
At Risman & Risman, P.C., we are committed to ensuring you fully understand the terms and conditions of any non-solicitation agreement. We are here to guide you through the entire process, from reviewing the agreement’s language before signing to challenging it in court if it is overly restrictive or unfair.
Understanding your rights as an employee is paramount, and we are here to help you navigate through this complex area of employment law. If you are faced with a non-solicitation agreement that you believe may infringe on your rights or ability to work, consulting with a skilled employment attorney is essential. We can assist you in evaluating the terms of the agreement and provide legal advice tailored to your unique circumstances.
While non-solicitation agreements can protect a company’s interests, they must not be unduly restrictive and disadvantageous to employees. Employees must be free to earn a living, and any agreement that excessively infringes upon this right may be challenged under New Jersey law. Understanding the details of non-solicitation agreements and their implications is crucial for employees, and we are committed to providing the legal support and guidance you need in this area. Contact us online or at (212) 233-6400 for a free consultation.