In Texas, a covenant not to compete typically requires that, upon leaving the company, an employee agrees not to be employed by their employer's competitors. A covenant not to compete may also be called a "non-compete clause". An employee who signs them either does so as a condition to employment or they may receive compensation for the agreement.
When are Covenants not to Compete Unenforceable?
It is difficult to know whether a judge will enforce a given non-compete agreement. Even if the employee's interests may be important Texas courts will certainly assign great weight to a person's freedom to choose the type of employment that is suitable for them. Accordingly, only those covenants which are deemed to be reasonable will be upheld by the court. A court will normally hold non-compete clauses to be unreasonable if they involve unusually long periods of time or if they cover a geographic region surrounding Houston that is excessively large.
Covenants not to compete are also required to deal only with competitors who are rationally related to the employer's line of industry. Lastly, the employer must have a valid business interest behind its motivation for mandating a covenant not to compete.
Do I Need an Attorney when Dealing with a Covenant not to Compete?
Before you sign any agreements that could restrict your rights, you may consider hiring a Houston, Texas attorney who can review the covenant. The attorney can negotiate modifications to the contract if they are needed, and can draft a new clause which is acceptable to the parties involved. Attorneys can provide valuable counseling to employers who are considering suing an employer who breached a covenant not to compete. They can also assist employees who have signed an agreement limiting their employment options.