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.
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 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.
A recent decision from the Thirteenth Court of Appeals in Texas serves as a cautionary tale for Texas employers seeking to enforce their non-compete agreements. In this case, a company that provided surgical assistants to surgical facilities and physicians sued a former employee for breaching his 2-year non-compete covenant, which prohibited him from “in any way” offering his services to any “client institutions or client surgeons” of his former employer.
Many companies have been taking advantage of the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic to poach employee talent that they otherwise would not have been able to recruit or afford. Companies that have experienced layoffs, furloughs, salary reductions or bonus freezes, are particularly vulnerable to raiding attempts by their competitors.