Aug 11, 2008 General Employment Issues

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

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.