When employees here in San Antonio are asked to sign a non-compete agreement, it is generally very important for them to seek legal counsel. These agreements often have many complicated provisions, and it is important that an employee understands the implications of any contract that he or she signs.
Additionally, if a time comes when an employee who has signed such an agreement is seeking to leave the company, it may be important to talk to an attorney about how to do this without stepping over legal boundaries. Just last month a Texas materials wholesaler sued one of its former salesmen for allegedly going to work with a competitor and sharing trade secrets.
According to United Unlimited Sales, it hired the salesman in 2007 and throughout his time with the company he acquired numerous trade secrets and other confidential information. It is not clear, however, whether the employee ever signed an agreement to protect the company's trade secrets.
United Unlimited Sales claims that the salesman quit his job suddenly in March and did not tell the company what he would be doing next; however, the company believes that he had been interviewing for a job with a competitor. The day after his resignation, he reportedly began work with the competitor.
Using trade secrets, he then was able to court many United Unlimited Sales customers, according to the lawsuit.
We do not yet know whether this lawsuit has any merit, but often disputes like this can be avoided. If this worker had signed a non-compete or another contract regarding trade secrets, it may have been wise for him to consult with a lawyer before quitting his job to begin work with a competitor. By doing so, he may have been able to renegotiate terms or simply ensure his following steps would not spark a lawsuit.
However, when former employees are pursued by former employers such as this, it is important for them to contact an employment law attorney who will stand up for their rights.
Source: The Southeast Texas Record, "Materials wholesaler sues employee for going to competitor," Kelly Holleran, Aug. 9, 2012