Imagine paying millions to acquire a company only to later discover the restrictive covenants in the employment agreements of high-level executives were unenforceable. That’s precisely what happened in Intertek Asset Integrity Management. In Intertek, Texas’s Twelfth Court of Appeals held a company Vice President’s non-compete was unenforceable by the purchaser-entity because the underlying employment agreement lacked an assignment clause. Such language, if included, would have permitted the seller to transfer the contract’s rights and obligations without the employee’s consent. Assignability clauses are frequently buried in the “miscellaneous” section of agreements and—too often—omitted. Businesses who overlook these terms in Texas employment contracts do so at their peril.
On January 5, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a broad proposed rule that would ban employers from imposing noncompete clauses on their workers. The FTC press release announcing the proposed rule states that noncompete clauses—which apply to about one in five American workers—suppress wages, hamper innovation, block entrepreneurs from starting new businesses and reduce American workers’ earnings between $250 billion and $296 billion per year. The proposed rule would prohibit employers from: (1) entering into or attempting to enter into a noncompete with a worker; (2) maintaining a noncompete with a worker; or (3) representing to a worker, under certain circumstances, that the worker is subject to a noncompete. The term “worker” covers paid staff in addition to independent contractors and unpaid staff. The proposed rule does not apply to noncompete provisions imposed upon 25% owners of a business in transaction documents related to the sale of the business. The proposal is subject to a 60-day public comment period commencing when the Federal Register publishes the proposed rule.…
Following a nationwide trend, New Jersey recently joined a growing list of states seeking to limit the use of non-compete and non-solicitation agreements by employers.…
Illinois recently passed legislation amending the Freedom to Work Act (the “Act”), following a growing trend of states imposing greater restrictions on employers’ use and enforcement of non-competition and non-solicitation covenants.
Continue Reading Illinois Imposes New Restrictions on Non-Competes and Non-Solicits
On August 13, 2021, Governor Pritzker signed into law a bill amending the Illinois Freedom to Work Act governing restrictive covenants and non-competition agreements. On May 30, 2021, the Illinois General Assembly passed a bill codifying existing noncompete law in some respects and modifying it in others. We detailed the Bill in a prior blog here. The Bill is now the law. The amendments become effective on January 1, 2022 and will not apply retroactively.
Continue Reading Illinois Governor Signs Non-Compete Legislation
Since its passage in 2016, the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) has increasingly become a valuable tool for employers seeking to enjoin former employees and competitors from misappropriating trade secrets. However, in requests for preliminary injunctive relief, companies often struggle with adequately alleging a likelihood of success on the merits of their claims under both the DTSA and state trade secret laws. A recent case filed in the Northern District of Illinois, Cortz, Inc. v. Doheny Enterprises, Inc., exemplifies this struggle and offers valuable lessons when moving for a preliminary injunction on a trade secret misappropriation claim.
Continue Reading Lessons Learned: Tips on How to Allege and Argue Trade Secret Misappropriation at a Preliminary Injunction Hearing
On August 19, 2016, Governor Bruce Rauner officially signed into law the Illinois Freedom to Work Act (the “Act”), with an effective date of January 1, 2017. The Act, while short and to the point, will have a significant impact on private sector employers who routinely require all employees, regardless of job level or wage, to enter into non-competition agreements.
Continue Reading Illinois Limits Non-Compete Agreements Yet Again
The Defend Trade Secrets Act (the “DTSA”), the first of its kind at the federal level, has been passed in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Now, the DTSA merely awaits President Obama’s expected signature to become law. The DTSA has the potential to transform trade secret litigation and create more uniform case law nationwide.
Continue Reading The Defend Trade Secrets Act – Coming to a Federal Court Near You