An employer may  be responsible for the acts of non-employees, with respect to sexual harassment of employees in the workplace, where the employer (or its agents or supervisory employees) knows or should have known of the conduct and fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action. In reviewing these cases the Commission will consider the extent of the employer’s control and any other legal responsibility which the employer may have with respect to the conduct of such non-employees.
In Texas, an employer can be held liable for its employees’ negligence if, at the time of the accident, the worker was an employee (not an independent contractor) and was acting in the course and scope of his employment.
Employees owe a duty of loyalty to their employer and may not: (1) appropriate company trade secrets; (2) solicit away the employer’s customers while working for the employer; (3) solicit the departure of other employees while still working for the employer; (4) carry away confidential information.
A hostile work environment arises when there is ongoing harassment, based on the plaintiff’s protected characteristic, so severe or pervasive that it has altered the conditions of employment and created an abusive working environment.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act prohibits companies from claiming tax deduction for confidential settlements paid for sexual harassment and abuse and the related lawyer’s fees.
Texas courts have issued several interesting opinions in 2017 regarding Texas non-compete law, explaining and defining when the Texas Covenants not to Compete Act applies and clarifying procedural mechanisms and remedies in non-compete disputes.
The Fifth Circuit recently considered whether the federal copyright and patent laws preempt (trump) Texas common law claim of unfair competition by misappropriation.
The unclean hands defense “allows a court to decline to grant equitable relief, such as an injunction, to a party whose conduct in connection with the same matter or transaction has been unconscientious, unjust, or marked by a want of good faith, or one who has violated the principles of equity and righteous dealing.”
In Texas, covenants limiting employees’ professional mobility are unlawful restraints on trade unless they fall within the exception created by the Covenants not to Compete Act.
Generally, training repayment provisions in employment agreements are enforceable in Texas. Employers should make sure that such clauses are written in a clear and understandable manner and are not hidden within employment contracts. When determining the parameters of the reimbursement policies, companies should make sure that they comply with the Texas Texas Free Enterprise and Antitrust Act of 1983, which prohibits the restraint on trade.
Enforcing non-compete agreements is as much of a business decision as it is a legal one. Having a non-compete agreement that is legally enforceable, allows you to decide whether it makes business sense to enforce it against a particular employee. Without a legally-enforceable non-compete agreement, however, the business reasons may not even matter.
This year, California, Illinois and Nevada amended their non-compete statutes to help protect employees’ right to change employers. Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington considered various amendments, but were unsuccessful in signing them into law, which means they will probably try again in 2018.