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Can a non-compete agreement regarding former students and large monetary compensation be upheld?

New York, NY |

I'm a musical theatre teacher and I once taught a class for a company and one of the students approached me asking to take private classes (I did not solicit and the focus of the class is entirely different than that of private lessons). I've been teaching the child ever since and the company would like to hire me again, asking that I sign a non-compete agreement in action for an unspecified amount of time and radius that will prohibit me from communicating with any current or PAST students of the company. If I violate this, they demand 10,000 dollars. I did not solicit the student and she hated the other class she took there. She simply did not like the other teacher. Could they pursue this? Also, what if other students I teach are past clients and I just don't know about it?

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Attorney answers 6


I don't see how you would be competing. They don't lose anything by you giving lessons to a former student. That said, it is always risky to sign a non-compete. You should insist that you be able to have an attorney review it before you agree to sign.


You really should consult an attorney and take the agreement with you. Whether it is actually enforceable, they could still sue you. My suggestion is that if you decide you want to work for them again and you want to continue giving lessons to others, that you at least include a list of names that are exempted from the agreement. Again, an attorney should do this for you. Look for a business attorney here on Avvo. Look at their profiles and what they have written and what areas they practice in before you decide to call one.


Have an employment attorney review it before you sign. He/she will notice any excessive provisions.


Can it? Yes. New York takes a dim view of non-competes, but it does not statutorily ban or cripple them as some other states do.
Will it? A question for your attorney.

I am licensed in New York only. My answers are generally based on New York law or common law, except where otherwise indicated, and other states may make exceptions or have peculiarities resulting in different answers from an attorney licensed in the other state.


If you agree to this, then yes, they will be able to collect the $10,000 liquidated damages. But why not simply negotiate a clause in the contract that exempts past students and/or ones you already have from the past? All they can say is no, and you are no worse off than now and have to decide if you want to give up these past students. Consult an attorney to review the contract, though, inlcuding the clause you want to modify or eliminate.

If you found this "helpful" or "best answer," please click it with my appreciation. My response is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal advice nor creates an attorney client relationship which requires all the details and a personal conference.


you should review this with an attorney. The provisions may not be permissible, and the attorney will probably be able instert lanuage that keeps you in complainance and protects the company The music company may have not used an attorney either.

All comments and/or opinions are for general information, and do not create an attorney-client relationship. In order to obtain a comprehensive and accurate legal opinion you should consult an attorney with the specific and detailed facts or your case/question.