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 the hallmark of enforcement of non-compete agreements in Texas is whether or not the covenants are reasonable. Generally, a reasonable area for in a covenant not to compete is considered to be the territory in which the employee worked. Furthermore, noncompete agreements barring an employee from working for a competitor in any capacity are invalid.
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.
In 2021, the Texas legislature will consider employment law bills that will: expand employment discrimination to include gender identity and expression, require paid sick leave; prohibit inquiries into wage history or criminal background (prior to offer of employment); require advanced notice of work schedules in food and retail establishments; prohibit non-disclosure and arbitration contracts in sexual harassment disputes, and raise minimum wage, among others.
Wage-fixing, i.e., agreeing with competitors that everyone will pay the same wage or will not pay more than a pre-agreed amount, is illegal. Just as companies can’t get together and fix prices for goods, they are also prohibited from fixing prices for services. A recent indictment of a Texas ex-owner of a staffing agency alleging that he engaged in price fixing shows that DOJ and FBI take wage-fixing arrangement seriously. The indicted ex-owner now faces up to 15 years in prison and over a million dollars in fines.
The Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division answers Fair Labor Standards Act questions related to COVID-19, including whether and how employers must compensate employees for reduced hours work, telework, and additional expenses associated with working from home.