There was a time, not so long ago, when professionals in the United States would get a job at a company and then work there until they retired. Companies largely promoted from within, and people could develop their careers and expect to consistently increase their wages if they continued putting forth their best efforts at work.
However, the way that people advance through their careers has shifted drastically in recent decades. Oftentimes, the fastest way to secure more pay or a better position involves pursuing employment elsewhere rather than seeking internal promotions. Workers may only stay with a company for a few years, maybe a decade, before moving on to a better position elsewhere.
In many ways, businesses benefit from worker mobility, as they can attract talent from all over the country, but they have much to lose in terms of staffing resources and even intellectual property. Therefore, many companies require that employees sign non-compete agreements before taking a job and will then take legal action against workers who do not abide by those agreements. Is it possible for one company to prevent a worker from accepting a job with another organization?
Yes, Texas courts may enforce non-compete agreements
The terms of a non-compete agreement, the position they held and the role they accepted at a new company can all influence how the Texas courts view attempts to enforce restrictive covenants. When workers voluntarily sign an agreement limiting their economic opportunities in exchange for a job, they generally have to uphold that agreement or risk triggering any penalties within the contract.
There could be financial consequences triggered by a violation of a valid non-compete agreement in some cases. Other times, former employers might actually seek a court order preventing someone from continuing a job or accepting a position elsewhere. Although public opinion about non-compete agreements has begun to shift drastically in recent years, the courts must abide by the current law in Texas and the contracts that workers voluntarily sign.
Those who are worried about triggering a non-compete agreement when leaving their current job can potentially negotiate with their employer or very carefully review their contract to validate that they will not trigger any penalties or legal action. Understanding what, if any, restrictions apply on future employment opportunities based on a current or prior employment contract may benefit those trying to advance their careers in Texas.