Noncompetes and Restrictive Covenants

In Texas, absent a valid noncompete, an at-will employee is generally free to compete with the former employer so long as the employee does not take or use the company’s confidential information or trade secrets. Notwithstanding this general rule, employees also have common law fiduciary duties that limit what activities they can engage in prior to resigning employment.  The level of fiduciary duty owed to the company will depend on the duties and responsibilities of the employee and the position within the company.  Employees may generally make preparations to compete while still employed by a company but cannot actively compete while still employed.  What constitutes preparing to compete versus actively competing can often be a blurry line.  A recent case from the El Paso Court of Appeals helps to bring the line into focus.

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At the end of October, the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) communicated a significant shift in their enforcement guidance regarding competition among employers to limit or fix terms of employment for potential hires.  In a new publication, Antitrust Guidance for Human Resource Professionals, the DOJ announced its 

Last week brought several interesting developments on the issue of restrictive covenants and hiring of employees among competitors including 1) the White House’s call to action (CTA) for the States to restrict use of covenants not to compete; 2) the Department of Justice’s announcement that it intends to criminally prosecute employers and executives entering into

I wrote about the case of Drennen v. Exxon Mobile over a year ago.  Drennen was the case of the Exxon executive who forfeited millions of dollars in incentive compensation when he left Exxon to work for a competitor.  You can read the background of the case here.  Today, the Texas Supreme Court held that a forfeiture clause

I have written several posts outlining the unique requirements that employers must include to create a valid noncompeteition agreement with a physician. (posts here and here). A recent case from the Beaumont Court of Appeals holds that even when a physician noncompetition agreement contains a reasonable buy-out clause, the employer may still have to arbitrate the

In a per curiam opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court held that under the Federal Arbitration Act arbitrators, not courts,must determine the enforceability of covenants not to compete when the parties are subject to agreements that call for the mandatory arbitration of disputes.

In Nitro-Lift Technologies v. Howard, two employees left their employment with Nitro-Lift and began

Covenant not to compete cases normally arise when an employer seeks to enforce a restrictive covenant by having a former employee enjoined from breaching the covenant and working for a competitor.  They can also arise when the employee is not expressly prohibited from competing, but is subjected to severe economic penalty if he engages in

When competitors make agreements with one another about what they will charge, the territories they will divide, the customers each will sell or the employees they will hire, red flags should raise because antitrust issues may be implicated. Last year I wrote about the settlement several Silicon Valley technology companies reached with the US Department

Employers should provide (and pay for) the cell phones and other PDA’s used by their sales force.  Why?  So that the company is entitled to, and can insist on, the return of the telephone, the assigned telephone number and the contacts and other wealth of information contained on those devices when the employment relationship ends.  If

In Part 1, I covered some thoughts on enforcing noncompetition agreements in Texas following the Texas Supreme Court’s new decision in Marsh USA.  Today I’m addressing some tips that employees (and their representatives) who are asked to sign or are attempting to bust a noncompetition agreement might consider.

Prior to signing the agreement, negotiate everything