On August 6, 2008, New York Governor David A. Paterson signed Bill S02393, dubbed the “Broadcast Employees Freedom to Work Act” into law. The act, amends the New York Labor Law so as to prohibit non-compete agreements in the broadcasting industry.  The enactment is effective immediately, and is codified as section 202-k of the Labor Law

Specifically, the newly minted Section 202-k provides 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 broadcast employee, after the conclusion of employment, refrain from obtaining subsequent employment “(a) in any specified geographic area, (b) for a specific period of time, or (c) with any particular employer or in any particular industry.” The act further declares as unenforceable any contractual provisions that would waive these prohibitions.

Within Section 202-k definition of “broadcasting industry employer” are companies operating television, radio, cable stations, networks, and/or internet or satellite-based services “similar to a broadcast station or network,” any broadcast entities “affiliated” with such entities, and “any other entity that provides broadcasting services such as news, weather, traffic, sports, or entertainment reports or programming.”  Likewise, a “broadcast employee” is defined as any on- or off-air employee of a broadcasting industry employer, “excluding management employees.”

The act provides that broadcast employees, as defined, can seek civil damages, including attorney’s fees and costs, as against a broadcasting industry employer violating Section 202-k.