Non-compete agreements cover a range of businesses/industries from financial services, to food and beverage, dance studios, and even pet care. It should come as no surprise that a lawsuit was filed by Surgical, Cosmetic, and Weight Loss Centers of America against a former employee that started work with the University of Texas Medical Branch – Center of Weight Loss Management. The lawsuit was filed in Jefferson County, Texas.
The Defendant signed a three year noncompete that restricted her from working for a competing business that was within a 25 mile radius of her former employer. Three years is a long time for a non-compete but Texas courts evaluate non-compete terms on a case by case basis – there is no bright line rule on the term of a non-compete. The employer alleges in the lawsuit:
Defendant, while working for plaintiff, was provided material, substantive benefits which made defendant as a medical professional more marketable in the field of her expertise. . .
As previously discussed, a Texas non-compete agreement must be ancillary to an otherwise enforceable agreement. Employers usually claim that some type of trade secret was provided to the employee. It will be interesting to see what benefits were provided to the Defendant in this case that give rise to the non-compete. Typically, employers fail in enforcing non-competes when they cannot establish that they provided the employer with the consideration promised, such as specialized training, access to trade secrets, etc. Assuming the scope and duration of the non-compete are acceptable, an attack on consideration is one of the last lines of attack in Texas after recent rulings from the Texas Supreme Court.