Texas Business Lawyers for Non-Compete Violations
Enforcing and Defending Claims in Non-Compete Agreement Disputes
Businesses depend on non-compete agreements to protect their proprietary information and prevent former employees, vendors, or contractors from using that information to compete against them for a reasonable length of time.
Whether you are a business owner watching in alarm as a former employee or supplier sets up competition against you, or a former employee facing allegations of a breached non-compete agreement, the Houston-based, non-compete litigation attorneys at Hendershot Cowart P.C. can help you. We are seasoned litigators skilled at defending and enforcing non-compete agreements.
To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (713) 909-7323.
Is a Non-Compete Agreement Enforceable in Texas?
To be enforceable in Texas, a non-compete agreement must be included with another agreement (such as an employment offer), and be in exchange for “consideration” (i.e. something in return, such as specialized training or confidential information). Additionally, it must stipulate specific limitations and restrictions pertaining to:
- Scope of activity
- Geographic area
Courts will only enforce non-compete agreements that are reasonable in terms of geographic limitations, the length of time restrictions will be in place, and the scope of prohibited work and activities. Courts also closely scrutinize non-competes to ensure they are not overly burdensome to an individual and their professional future. They must also be specifically tailored to the specific employee and designed to protect legitimate business interests (i.e. trade secrets, confidential information, and business goodwill).
What Type of Relief or Damages Can I Pursue for Breach of a Non-compete Agreement?
Employers enforcing a non-compete may seek injunctive relief in the form of prohibiting a former executive or employee from acting in violation of the non-compete agreement letter.
Beyond injunctive relief, you may also pursue various types of compensation to recover damage to your business. These include:
- Seeking monetary or compensatory damages to regain capital lost from the non-compete violation if the case involves a breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of trade secrets, or another contract breach;
- Seeking punitive damages if the individual violated the non-compete maliciously;
- Seeking liquidated damages if the contract owner stipulated a cost to violating the non-compete in the initial contract, and;
- Seeking compensation for court costs and attorney’s fees, if the court rules in favor of the contract owner.
How Do I Get Out of a Non-compete Agreement in Texas?
If you are considering other employment or starting your own enterprise, you may want to seek an end to your agreement with your current or former employer. To get out of a non-compete agreement in Texas, you will need to demonstrate one (or more) of the following:
- The contract owner failed to provide or uphold consideration, which may impact the legality of the agreement
- The contract owner engaged in unethical or unlawful conduct, or has a record of failing to consistently enforce the terms of non-compete agreements
- The actions you have taken since disengaging with the contract owner have not actually violated the terms of the non-compete
- The non-compete does not protect a legitimate business interest. Companies often require all of their employees to sign a non-compete. However, if you work in a position that doesn’t involve interacting with trade secrets or other propriety interests (working as a receptionist, for example), you can argue that your non-compete didn’t protect any legitimate interests, and is invalid.
- The terms of the non-compete (concerning geography, duration, and scope of activity) are unreasonable
- You never signed a non-compete agreement in the first place
Proving one or more of the above points may help release you from the restrictions of a non-compete agreement. An attorney who specializes in business contracts, like the attorneys at Hendershot Cowart P.C., can review any written agreements you signed and advise you of your options.
Additional Considerations for Physicians
Because physician non-compete agreements can impact doctor-patient relationships, Texas law has special requirements above and beyond the elements of an executive non-compete agreement.
Specifically, physician non-competes must allow doctors:
- Access to a list of patients treated within the year preceding the separation from the practice
- Reasonable access, upon patient consent, to relevant medical records
- To provide for patients who need acute care even after the contract or employment has been terminated
- To buy out of their agreement, if they choose, at a reasonable price, or, upon mutual consent, for a price set by a neutral third party
How Can the Team at Hendershot Cowart Help?
At Hendershot Cowart, we represent both employers and employees in non-compete agreement disputes. When you bring us on-board for your case, we will examine the terms and conditions of the agreement. Then, we will work with you to identify the best path forward whether you are pursuing or defending a non-compete violation claim.
We also work with business owners and executives to draft legally sound and enforceable employment contracts and non-compete agreements. With any non-compete matter, our goal is to empower you with information and the benefit of our years of experience, so you can make the best decision for your business or health care practice.
Request a Consultation to Learn More
At Hendershot Cowart P.C., business law and contractual matters are a cornerstone of our practice. This expertise translates to an efficient and comprehensive resolution to your non-compete agreement dispute. Our award-winning business lawyers are ready to work with you.
To speak with a member of our team about your needs, contact us for an initial consultation.
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