Do you need to get out of a non-compete agreement? You may have a strong case. If you can show that your employer placed unreasonable restrictions on you, Texas law says the non-compete agreement cannot be enforced. We’re here to help you make that happen.
Gardner Employment Law has won many battles in and out of court against employers who have tried to enforce unreasonable non-competes. We are experts in this area of law and fierce fighters for our clients. If you need a non-compete agreement attorney in the Houston area, contact us today.
Beware of hidden restrictions
We’ve all been there. Your first day at a new job is usually spent signing your way through a mountain of paperwork. A lot of this is routine stuff, but employers often will slip a non-compete agreement into the stack. Or sometimes the non-compete language is buried documents that serve another purpose, such as stock option agreements. In the flurry of getting started in the new job, these documents typically get signed without being read or questioned. But questions are exactly what you should be asking before signing.
Another typical scenario is when employers try to force a non-compete after an employee is well into the job and is earning a nice salary and benefits. Often they demand a signature as a condition to keep the job, and most of the time they get it. Employers usually don’t explain the non-compete, but they are more than ready to enforce it when an employee wants to work for another company in the same industry. Companies fight high-dollar court battles over non-competes. You can avoid all this strife by first calling Gardner Employment Law before signing a non-compete.
And if you find yourself served with court papers by a former employer, you need your own non-compete contracts lawyer in your corner. You don’t know what you don’t know, as the old saying goes. Without an expert to fight for your rights, you could be at risk for losing your career.
Why employers demand non-competes
Non-compete laws are designed to protect an employer’s confidential information. A great example is the formula for Coca Cola, which was created in 1891. Coca Cola is careful to keep that formula a secret to this very day. Others have tried to replicate it, but none have cracked the code on this beloved fizzy beverage. Even the company’s most famous competitor, Pepsi, is a distant second in market share.
It’s clear that confidential information gives companies a competitive edge, and they are right in wanting to protect this advantage. They’ve put the time and money into developing their trade secrets, so it makes sense that they would restrict employees from sharing those secrets if they were to leave for a competitor. This is where non-compete agreements have a valid, reasonable purpose.
What’s a Non-Compete and How Is it Enforced?
What’s a non-compete, legally? A non-compete agreement is governed by state law, and states’ laws differ. Texas law requires non-competes to include specific elements and stipulates that restrictions must be reasonable. Limits on the employee’s activities, the time period of the agreement, geographical limits – all of these elements must be reasonable. In short, the provisions cannot prevent the employee from earning a livelihood.
Also, to be enforceable the competing activities must be tied to confidential information that was gained during employment or to the company’s “goodwill” with customers that helped you perform your job duties. An employer cannot pay you in exchange for a non-compete promise, such as severance when you’re terminated.
Usually the first time anyone hears about a non-compete problem is when a constable serves a court order halting all work with the new employer. From there, a judge alone determines if the agreement is enforceable and decides the employee’s fate. If at all possible, don’t allow yourself to get to this point. But if you are in that predicament and you’re searching for a non-compete lawyer near you, we have won many non-compete victories in the courtroom and can rescue your career.
Get ahead of the problem
Texas law presumes that you understand any document you signed. So read the document carefully, but even then you probably won’t have complete clarity. That’s why you should meet with an expert employment lawyer before signing. Your career may be at stake, so make sure you’re working with a legal firm that knows non-competes backward and forward, inside and out.
At Gardner Employment Law, we know non-compete agreements. We have helped our clients protect themselves and their futures. We’re ready to do the same for you. Contact us today.
What if I refuse to sign a new non-compete agreement that my employer has instructed me to sign?
You could risk termination by flatly refusing to sign the document. (To read more, go to FAQ’s page.)
I have heard that Texas is a “right to work” state. Doesn’t that mean that non-compete agreements are no good in Texas?
The phrase “right to work” is misleading. That phrase relates to union membership. (To read more, go to FAQ’s page.)
In the severance package that my employer is giving me in a lay-off, there is a non-compete section. Is that enforceable?
No. (To read more, go to FAQ’s page.)
What if my former employer failed to sign the line on my non-compete agreement. Is the non-compete agreement enforceable?
It depends on the circumstances. (To read more, go to FAQ’s page.)