Aren't non-competes unenforceable in Texas?
Many of our clients believe this to be true. It's not. A properly drafted non-compete is enforceable in Texas. For many years, Texas courts adhered to a strict view that resulted in many noncompetes being rejected. This approach has softened, however, and Texas courts are now more willing to consider and enforce noncompetes. The law in this area has become more friendly to employers in recent years, so don't make any assumptions. Click the "Schedule Now" tab, and select "Non-Compete Review and Strategy."
What can my old employer do if I violate my non-compete?
The enforcement tools available to employers are vast. They can obtain a "temporary restraining order" that prevents you from working at your current or prospective new job, or even an award of money damages against you. They often sue, or threaten to sue, your new employer as well - often resulting in the loss of your new job. Do not assume that you can get away with even a minor violation. Click the "Schedule Now" tab, and select "Non-Compete Review and Strategy."
How can I fight a non-compete?
Fortunately, there are options available - but you need to contact an attorney quickly. Employers can obtain a "temporary restraining order," or "TRO" (see above) almost immediately, and sometimes without you even being present at the court hearing. We can fight TRO's, but only if we've been retained in time. We can argue that the non-compete is unenforceable, or that it's overbroad and should be reduced in scope. Often, the best result for employees and employers is to negotiate a less restrictive agreement. For example, an employee may agree to stay away from certain clients in exchance for being permitted to work for a competitor. Prospectively, you should always make new or potential employers aware of the fact that you have a non-compete agreement. We are experienced in this area, and can help you understand your options. Click the "Schedule Now" tab, and select "Non-Compete Review and Strategy."
My non-compete is overbroad. Does that make it illegal?
No. Texas is a "blue pencil" state. That means that an overbroad non-compete (for example: one that lasts for 10 years, or that has no geographic restrictions) is still enforced. Instead of throwing the non-compete out, the court will simply impose a less restrictive term in place of the overbroad term.
I never signed a non-compete, so I don't have one, right?
Not necessarily. Even without a physical signature, an employer might be able to enforce a non-compete if you indicated your assent otherwise. This would include, for example, electronic assent, through check-boxes or typing in your initials. Furthermore, many employees have other restrictions, such as non-disclosure and non-solicitation, and all employees have a duty not to unfairly compete or use an employer's trade secrets. Not sure what you can and can't do? Contact Us.