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I have a standard non-compete agreement but only found out after interviewing with a new company. Can I get sued by my employer?

New York, NY |

Hi everyone,

I have a non-compete clause as part of the contract with my current employer but didn't know that it would apply if I worked for a client.

A recruiter from a client's company reached out to me for a position. I had a phone interview but I just now discovered that I cannot work for them (per my non-compete clause) so I will decline the on-site interview. Can I get sued by my current employer for this? I am just now aware of what the clause entails and will not work for this client.

Thanks for your help!

Attorney Answers 3


  1. As a practical matter, it would be very difficult to show any damages from your interview so a lawsuit may be silly in this context. That being said, it would be impossible to answer your question without being able to fully review the document in question. Set up a consultation with an experienced employment attorney near you.

    This answer does not constitute legal advice and you should contact an attorney to confirm or research further any statements made in this answer. Any statements of fact or law I have made in this answer pertain solely to New York State and should not be relied upon in any way in any other jurisdiction. Additionally, we also encourage you to reach out to us via Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/WhiteRoseMarks) or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/WhiteRoseMarks) if you have follow up questions as we do not monitor questions after providing an initial answer.


  2. It’s not likely that your conduct will result in a lawsuit being filed against you, especially since you’ve declined the on-site interview.

    You indicate that you have entered into a ‘standard’ non-compete. This area of law is constantly changing, and the way a court may come out in a situation like yours hinges on specific facts.
    It’s best that you schedule a consultation with an experienced employment lawyer to determine if the non-compete you entered into would even hold up in court, or if it’s too overbroad and restrictive. Your employer need not know that you consulted with an attorney.

    If you would like to leave your current employer, and work for a client or competitor, an experienced employment lawyer can still help you do so despite the non-compete—provided that you consult with the lawyer before you even apply for positions with a client or competitor.

    -Denise K. Bonnaig
    212-374-1511


  3. Based upon the information provided, no. Merely interviewing for a position is not itself "competitive" conduct that would trigger a standard non-compete clause.

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