Texas Non-Compete Agreements Attorneys
Non-compete agreements are employment contracts that are designed to protect confidential company information. Even though many employees do not possess any trade secrets, several lower-level employees are also being asked to sign non-compete agreements in workplaces all over the country.
Some people scoff at the general idea of non-compete agreements even being enforceable but make no mistake; a non-compete agreement is a valid contract in Texas when it is appropriately structured. People should not take non-compete agreements lightly as these contract can often have severe consequences for job mobility for individuals in specific industries.
If you have been asked to sign a non-compete agreement or accused of violating a non-compete agreement, you should not delay in seeking legal representation. A Texas non-compete agreements lawyer can review the language of your non-compete agreement and help you achieve the most desirable outcome to your case.
Leichter Law Firm PC is committed to helping protect the rights of employees all over Texas. Call (956) 205-0884 or fill out an online contact form to have our attorneys provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free consultation.
Do I Need A Non-Compete Agreements Lawyer?
Your primary concern with a non-compete agreement is how legally enforceable it will be. You will want to know what precisely the agreement could prevent you from doing while you are employed and certainly if the employer no longer employs you.
An attorney will very clearly explain to you the possible consequences you could face by signing a proposed non-compete agreement. The lawyer can also help you revise a non-compete agreement and negotiate in certain circumstances.
When a person who has signed a non-compete agreement begins working for a possible competitor, the company that the worker signed the non-compete agreement with may try to contact the new employer to notify them of the non-compete agreement and possibly prevent their employment there. An attorney can help a person protect their rights to work for the employer of their choosing in Texas.
Companies that people sign non-compete agreements with may take other actions that create problems for employees and former employees, including cease and desist letters or even litigation in some cases. Any person accused of violating a non-compete agreement will want to quickly find a lawyer who is knowledgeable about these types of employment agreements.
Why Choose Leichter Law Firm PC To Handle My Case?
Leichter Law Firm PC has a long history of successful verdicts and settlements for employees in a variety of employment industries throughout Texas. Our Texas employment law firm is dedicated to protecting the rights of employees, and we have office locations in Austin, Houston, and McAllen.
We represent all kinds of employees, from laborers to line workers to managers to executives. Our attorneys are admitted to state and federal courts in Texas.
Founder Louis Leichter is a member of the National Association of Addiction Professionals (NAADAC), the Texas Association of Addiction Professionals (TAAP), and the State Bar of Texas. He also received an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell in 2018, a peer rating denoting the highest level of professional excellence.
David Langenfeld is Board Certified as a Specialist in Labor and Employment Law. Fewer than 10 percent of attorneys are Board Certified in any area of law, and fewer than 1 percent are Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law specifically.
Types of Non-Compete Agreements Cases We Handle
For several years, Light v. Centel Cellular Co., 883 S.W.2d 642 (Tex. 1994) was the guiding principle in many non-compete agreement cases. In Light, the Supreme Court of Texas wrote that for a covenant not to compete to be ancillary to an otherwise enforceable agreement between an employer and employee:
- the consideration given by the employer in the otherwise enforceable agreement must give rise to the employer’s interest in restraining the employee from competing, and
- the covenant must be designed to enforce the employee’s consideration or return promise in the otherwise enforceable agreement.
Both elements of the test needed to be satisfied, otherwise, the court wrote that the covenant could not be ancillary to or a part of an otherwise enforceable agreement and would, therefore, be “a naked restraint of trade and unenforceable.” The decision in Light was revisited with the Supreme Court of Texas’ decision in Alex Sheshunoff Management Services, L.P. v. Johnson(No. 03-1050, Oct. 20, 2006).
In Sheshunoff, the court asked whether an at-will employee who signs a non-compete covenant is bound by that agreement if, at the time the agreement is made, the employer has no corresponding enforceable obligation. The Supreme Court of Texas modified its holding in Light and held that an at-will employee’s non-compete covenant becomes enforceable when the employer performs the promises it made in exchange for the covenant. Thus, the court disagreed with language inLightstating that the Covenants Not to Compete Act requires the agreement containing the covenant to be enforceable the instant the agreement is made.
While Sheshunoff involved an employer who promised to provide confidential information and did provide confidential information, the Supreme Court of Texas essentially did away with the requirement that information is provided or promised to be provided with its decision in Mann Frankfort Stein & Lipp. Advisors, Inc. v. Fielding, 289 S.W.3d 844, 848 (Tex. 2009). Two short years later, the Supreme Court of Texas continued to chip away at Light with its decision in Marsh USA, Inc. v. Cook, 54 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 1234 (Tex. 2011).
In Marsh, the Supreme Court of Texas held that the granting of stock options to an executive employee supported enforcement of a non-compete provision when he began to work for an employer. All three of these Supreme Court of Texas decisions have made it far easier for businesses to pursue enforcement of non-compete agreements in Texas.
Leichter Law Firm PC understands that most employees do not consciously violate non-compete agreements, and many people forget that they even signed these agreements. Many companies write these agreements in language that is far too broad and over-reaches on what limitations it hopes to impose.
Non-compete agreements must generally be reasonable in the limitations they seek to impose, usually offer some kind of benefit to the employee, and involve some reason why the employer cannot allow you to work for another company. An experienced attorney will be able to prove when the elements of a non-compete agreement are unreasonable.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a “restrictive covenant?”
A restrictive covenant is an agreement usually prohibits a person from taking a specified action. A non-compete agreement is, in itself, a restrictive covenant. The most common restrictive covenants are generally non-compete agreements, non-solicitation agreements, and non-disclosure agreements. Restrictive covenants during employment usually prohibit sharing confidential company information, and restrictive covenants enforced after employment has concluded include restrictions on working for competitors.
Are non-compete agreements enforceable against independent contractors?
Yes. Independent contractors may not be full-time employees of companies, but they can still be asked to sign non-compete agreements as conditions of any work performed for a company. The terms of the non-compete agreements with independent contractors may differ slightly from non-compete agreements with employees, but they generally prohibit the same activities for both groups.
What are the “red pencil” and “blue pencil” doctrines?
When it comes to non-compete agreements, the red pencil doctrine allows courts to throw out the non-compete provisions of certain employment agreements. In blue pencil doctrine states, courts can cross out language that is too broad but cannot make any additional modifications. Texas allows for equitable reformation in non-compete agreements, which means that state courts have the power to completely rewrite portions of non-compete agreements to make them legally enforceable.
Non-Compete Agreements Statistics
A March 2016 report by the Office of Economic Policy in the United States Department of the Treasury reported that almost 30 million people, or 18 percent of all American workers, are covered by non-compete agreements. Only 24 percent of workers reported that they possessed trade secrets.
The Office of Economic Policy stated that non-compete agreements are common among workers who report lower rates of trade secret possession. According to the report, 15 percent of workers without a four-year college degree are subject to non-competes, and 14 percent of workers earning less than $40,000 have non-competes.
The White House noted in a May 2016 report that a law firm found a 61 percent rise from 2002 to 2013 in the number of employees getting sued by former companies for breach of non-compete agreements.
Contact a Texas Non-Compete Agreements Attorney Today
Are you being asked to sign a non-compete agreement or have you been accused of violating a non-compete agreement? You are dealing with contractual issues that will make it in your best interest to retain legal counsel.
Leichter Law Firm PC understands the rights of employees in Texas and fights to protect them. You can have our lawyers review your case and help you understand all of your legal options when you call (956) 205-0884 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.