Temporary Restraining Orders in Texas Non-Compete Cases

What is a Temporary Restraining Order in a Non-Compete Case in Texas?

Temporary restraining orders in Texas (also knowns at “TROs”) are orders issued by courts that require employees to comply with their non-compete restraints until a further ruling by the court or a defined event (hence, the name “temporary”). Texas employers will seek such orders when they believe an employee is violating his or her non-compete agreement.

When applying for a temporary restraining order, employers’ attorneys will draft a proposed order that they will give to the court to sign. Sometimes, judges modify those orders before signing them and sometimes they sign them just as they are prepared by the employers’ attorneys.

However, if a TRO signed by a judge does not meet certain legal requirements, the order is void, which means the employee who is subject to the other does not have to comply with it.

Is a Defective Temporary Restraining Order Enforceable?

No, defective temporary restraining orders that do not meet certain requirements are void. In a recent opinion, a Texas appellate court found that the temporary restraining order signed by the trial judge was void because:

[T]he order failed to to state a bond amount, and therefore failed to comply with the requirements of Rule 684, which provides that, in an order granting a temporary restraining order, ‘the court shall fix the amount of security to be given by the applicant’ and, ‘[b]efore the issuance of the temporary restraining order . . . the applicant shall execute and file with the clerk a bond to the adverse party . . . in the sum fixed by the judge.’ 

Austin Court of Appeals

What Makes a Temporary Restraining Order Void in a Non-Compete Case in Texas?

In addition to specifying a set bond amount, temporary restraining orders in Texas non-compete cases must:

  1. Contain a temporary injunction hearing date and time
  2. Provide notice to the adverse party, and if no notice is provided, the order must must explain why that is the case
  3. Explain reasons for their issuance
  4. Be specific in terms
  5. Describe in reasonable detail and not by reference to the complaint or other document

If a temporary restraining order does not meet all of these requirements, it is void.

What Should An Employer Do to Obtain a Valid Restraining Order in a Non-Compete Case in Texas?

The language of the temporary restraining order is as important as the language in the petition alleging the claims. A temporary restraining order must contain all the required elements and must clearly describe the prohibited conduct or it is of no force and the employer has lost an early shot at stopping the the competition.

Leiza Dolghih is the founder of Dolghih Law Group PLLC.  She is board certified in labor and employment law and has 16+ years of experience in commercial and employment litigation, including trade secrets and non-compete disputes. You can contact her directly at leiza@dlg-legal.com or (214) 531-2403.

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