Can my ex-employer file suit against me for breach of a non-compete agreement if I am performing services that are different from his?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can my ex-employer file suit against me for breach of a non-compete agreement if I am performing services that are different from his?

I used to work for a T-Shirt printing company. I left for personal reasons. Now I have started my own graphics company (not printing shirts) and some of the customers from my previous job have tracked me down and want me to do artwork for them. My ex-boss said that even if I do artwork for them, then I am competing with him, even though he is a shirt printer but that is not what I am doing. They just want the artwork from me. I was also forced to sign a non-compete agreement before I left or else be terminated from the job. I had already been working there over a year before I was made to sign it.

Asked on June 30, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There is no general answer; for a definitive answer, you need to consult with an employment lawyer, who can evalute the specific language of the agreement and your specific situation. That said, here are some principals to bear in mind:

1) While non-competition agreements are enforceable, they are generally enforced narrowly, so as to not prevent people from earning a living. If your former boss only printed T-shirts and not what you print, then it is likely you would not be violating the non-competition agreement.

2) However, "non-solicitation" agreements, which are often incorporated into non-competition agreements, are enforced more broadly. If you agreed to not do work for customers of the former boss, that *might* be enforceable, even if the work you do is different.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption