Pechman Law Group assists executives in negotiating employment agreements so that they are protected against wrongful discharge and mistreatment during their employment. We are often involved in the high stake departures of executives from companies, and are called on to negotiate solutions to employment contract disputes. Where necessary, we litigate contract disputes in arbitration, state court, or federal court.
One of the principal areas of litigation in employment contracts is the protection of trade secrets. Employees are sometimes required to sign a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement. These clauses require the new employee to promptly disclose new inventions or other intellectual property to the employer upon conception and to assign such inventions to the employer at that time. These agreements may require that the employee has an obligation to assign new inventions to the new employer as a part of the employment and that the employee has a duty to assist with the patenting process for such inventions. We have represented both employees and employers in trade secret litigation. Often these cases are on a very fast track as an employer will often seek an injunction or a temporary restraining order to protect its trade secrets or other sensitive and confidential business information.
Employment agreements and executive agreements often contain non-compete agreements, sometimes referred to as restrictive covenants. Although public perception is that restrictive covenants and non-competition agreements are generally not enforceable, the area of non-competition is fraught with dangerous consequences. Non-compete agreements are generally enforceable in New York. A non-compete is enforceable if (1) is necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate interests, (2) does not impose an undue hardship on the employee, (3) does not harm the public, and (4) is reasonable in time period and geographic scope. An employer’s legitimate interest may include protecting an employer’s trade secrets and confidential information and preventing employees from taking specialized skills they gained on the job to a competitor. A non-compete’s restrictions must be no greater than necessary to protect the legitimate interests of the employer.
We have advised executives and companies in a variety of industries concerning the practical consequences and legal effectiveness of non-competition agreements. Franco Cuadra has a particular expertise in this area of litigation and has lectured at the New York Court Lawyers Association on the enforceability of non-compete agreements.
Sometimes clients are required by a contract to arbitrate their employment disputes before American Arbitration Association, FINRA, or the New York Stock Exchange. Pechman Law Group has handled a wide variety of these types of arbitrations.