New York Governor Paterson recently signed the Broadcast Employees Freedom Work Act which restricts employers in the broadcasting industry from conditioning employment on the signing of noncompete agreements.
Noncompete agreements restrict an employee’s ability to work for a competitor for a specified period of time following termination of employment. In New York, such agreements are upheld provided that they are reasonable in scope, time, and no more restrictive than necessary to protect an employer’s legitimate interest– such as confidential information. Such agreements in the broadcasting industry had the effect of either requiring broadcasters to move out of their geographical areas or ending their careers.
The Broadcasting Freedom Work Act alleviates this problem by providing that “a broadcasting industry employer shall not require as a condition of employment, whether in an employment contract or otherwise, that a broadcast employee or prospective employee refrain from obtaining employment: (a) in any specified geographic area; (b) for a specific period of time; or (c) with a particular employer” following termination of employment. This protection cannot be waived and would apply to all broadcasting industry on-air and off-air employees excluding those holding management positions.
Governor Paterson notes that this Act will provide employment independence and options to broadcasters who “play an important role in our democracy by providing the public with critical news and analysis that help us shape the ongoing discourse about the future of our society.”