A Texas federal court recently entered an injunction against a healthcare staffing company that works with federal agencies ordering it to (1) return information brought to it by a new hire from his previous employer and (2) not to use such information in any way to submit bids on any staffing contracts with federal agencies.
Texas employees who refuse COVID-19 vaccine may be terminated. If they have a non-compete agreement with their employer, assuming the agreement meets the appropriate legal requirements, i.e., among other things, is reasonable, has geographic, scope, and term restrictions, and is supported by consideration, the fact that the employee was terminated or quit over the COVID-19 vaccine requirement, is not going to make the agreement invalid.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals The explained that “the Mandate imposes a financial burden upon [employers] by deputizing their participation in OSHA’s regulatory scheme, exposes them to severe financial risk if they refuse or fail to comply, and threatens to decimate their workforces (and business prospects) by forcing unwilling employees to take their shots, take their tests, or hit the road.”
Many employees assume that if they were let go their non-compete agreement automatically becomes null and void. This is not true, however, in a lot of states, and this assumption can turn out to be very costly for an employee. It is much better to plan ahead and make sure that the departure from the former employer is as smooth as possible, and to avoid doing some of the things described above that often trigger a non-compete lawsuit.
While getting out of non-compete restraints is not always possible, some of the most common ways that employees – and employers that want to hire them – can overcome such agreements include the following: (1) lack of consideration; (2) unreasonable restraints; (3) no legitimate business interest, and other defenses.
In January 2020 – just before the pandemic officially started in the United States – the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals dealt with this exact issue in a case involving a termination of a firefighter by a City fire department in Texas for his refusal to get the mandatory tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis or whooping cough (TDAP) vaccine on the grounds of his religion. The Court ruled in favor of the employer, providing a good reminder of how employers should go about addressing these types of situations.