In non-compete disputes in Texas, employers often argue that everything that they provided to employees was confidential, while employees argue that nothing that was provided to them was confidential. As the result, the issue of confidentiality often ends up being an ultimate “fact issue” that must be resolved by a judge or a jury.
While the enforcement of non-compete agreements around the country remains strong, the courts are looking closer at whether an employee will suffer “undue hardship” if his or her non-compete is enforced. Thus, employers should avoid taking unreasonable positions in court and be prepared to explain why enforcing a particular non-competition agreement will not prevent an employee from earning a living.
Last week, a federal court in Texas refused to enforce a company’s non-compete agreement against four key employees who started a competing business because the agreement was missing a key term – the end date. The above situation can be avoided through simple practice of: (1) knowing what is in the company non-compete agreements; (2) making sure all the key provisions required by the relevant statutes are included; and (3) periodically updating non-compete agreements so that they are compliant with the relevant state law.
A good non-solicitation and confidentiality agreement, combined with other key provisions, and smart business practices, can deter client poaching and preserve the relationship between the salon and its clients even in the face of its employees’ departure.
The Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA), enacted by the legislature in 2011, has been wrecking havoc in business and employment disputes due to the statute’s overbroad language, confusing and conflicting interpretation by the various courts of appeals and federal courts, and defendants’ persistence in invoking the statute’s dismissal process in trade secrets and non-compete lawsuits.
In Part I, I described requirements for non-compete agreements in Texas. In Part II, I describe the common mistakes that employers make when it comes to non-compete agreements.