Category: Texas Legal News

Non-Compete Agreements: Garbage In, Garbage Out

A confusing, ambiguous, or imprecise non-compete agreement will yield poor results in court.  In other words: garbage in, garbage out.

The Two Steps All Small Businesses Can Take to Protect Their Trade Secrets

Many small businesses use Google, Microsoft 360, Dropbox or some other similar systems to maintain  and manage company records.  All of those systems allow the administrator to (1) set restrictions on which employees can access which information within the company; (2) track what the employees do with that information; (3) set restrictions on whether the employees can print, download, copy or share the information with other employees or people outside the company; (4) periodically change passwords to access the system; and (5) many other features that can help business owners prevent their information being shared outside the company. 

Is Credit Card Information Stored by a Restaurant a “Trade Secret”?

Credit card data (including cardholder names, credit or debit card numbers, and corresponding CVVs) were akin to passwords and usernames that provided access to something of value,” i.e. an individual’s line of credit with a financial institution or money in an account with a financial institution, and were not “trade secrets” under the Defend Trade Secrets Act.

How Enforceable is a Non-Compete? and Other Top Google Questions Answered

How enforceable is a non-compete?  Generally speaking, non-compete agreements are enforceable.  Is a non-compete valid if you are fired? Usually, yes.  Do non-compete agreements hold up?  When written correctly, yes. How long does a non-compete agreement last? As a general rule, non-compete agreements that last two years or less are considered reasonable. 

Lessons from the Mavericks Sexual Harassment Scandal: Specific Steps Your Company Can Take to Avoid a #MeToo Situation

Eradicating sexual harassment in the workplace requires commitment from the upper echelons with the company, creation of clear anti-harassment policies, effective training, and consistent enforcement of such policies. If your company is committed to making a change, but not sure where to begin, the above recommendations provide a good starting check list for making such changes. 

A Study Concludes Mentioning “Trade Secrets” in Form 10-K Leads to More Cyber Breaches

Trade secrets only have value as long as they stay secret, so once they come into a competitor’s hands or become publicly available, their value is often destroyed.

Employers Are Responsible for Stopping Sexual Harassment by Non-Employees

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.

Is it a Crime to Take Employers’ Trade Secrets?

Few employees realize that when they take their employers’ trade secrets with them prior to leaving their job they may be exposing themselves to criminal liability under the Economic Espionage Act, which makes it a crime to steal trade secrets when (1) the information relates to a product in interstate or foreign commerce (which is virtually any product now days) or (2) the intended beneficiary is a foreign power. 

The Fifth Circuit Rules Industry-Wide Noncompete Agreements Are Not Enforceable

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently considered whether a travel agency’s noncompete agreement with its employee was enforceable under Texas law.  It concluded that because the agreement did not have geographic limits, was not limited to the travel agency’s customers with whom the employee actually worked during her employment, and included entire travel agency industry, the non-compete was unenforceable.

2018 Mid-Year Non-Compete Laws Update

More and more states are amending their non-compete statutes to make them more employee-friendly.  This trend, spurred by the White House report on the effect of non-compete agreements on competition and the revelation that some of the largest  employers, like Jimmy John’s and Amazon, were requiring their sandwich-makers and warehouse employees to sign non-compete agreements, has continued into 2018. 

What Are Acceptable Non-Solicitation Restraints for Sales Employees?

While a non-solicitation clause that prohibits a sales employee from soliciting all company customers may sometimes be justified, most of the time it is much more reasonable to limit the non-solicitation restraint only to the customers and prospective customers with whom the sales employee directly interacted rather than every customer in the company’s database.

Texas Supreme Court Clarifies When Employers are Responsible for Employees’ Negligence

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.

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