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New York Governor Signs “Broadcast Employees Freedom to Work Act”

August 11, 2008

New York’s Governor David Patterson has signed into law the “Broadcast Employees Freedom to Work Act” ( Senate Bill S02393, Assembly Bill A 2124-A),  which adds a provision to the New York Labor Law banning non-compete agreements for all employees in the broadcasting industry in New York State, excluding management employees.  

The new law, which goes into effect immediately, applies to both on-air and off-air employees in television, radio, cable, internet and satellite-based broadcasting services, but excludes “management employees” (a term not defined by the statute).  The law prohibits broadcast industry employers from requiring an employee, as a condition of his or her employment, to agree that at the conclusion of the employment the employee will refrain from obtaining employment with a competitor in any specified geographic area, for any specific period of time, with any particular employer, or in a particular industry.  Employees cannot waive the prohibition.  The law does not apply to agreements not to work for a competitor during the term of the employee’s employment contract.  Employers who violate the law are subject to civil liability for damages, attorney’s fees and costs.