Non Compete Not Enforceable
Non competes are only enforceable in Massachusetts if they are necessary to protect a legitimate business interest of the employer. Below is an example of a non compete case we defended because the restrictive covenants did not protect a legitimate interest.
Unenforceable Non-Compete Case Study: Background
Client F was an analyst for a market research company in Massachusetts. He did primarily back office work collecting and analyzing data. He did not interact with customers or prospective customers. His work also did not involve trade secrets or a proprietary methodology.
Client F was offered a job by a company in California that provided similar services in a similar market. The Massachusetts company sent a cease and desist letter to him and his new employer. The letter threatened to sue both of them to enforce the non compete.
Unenforceable Non-Compete Case Study: Strategy and Outcome
Client F contacted us after he received the cease and desist letter. We reviewed his documents and interviewed him. Based on this review, we concluded that he did not have any customer relationships that would impact the employer's goodwill.
It also did not appear that the work he did was informed by any confidential methodologies. Instead, the analysis he did was based on established data analysis techniques and his own experience.
In addition, the new job was for a California employer. California had passed a law refusing to enforce non competes unless necessary to protect trade secrets.
We first attempted to reach a resolution with the old and new employers. The former employer, however, was unwilling to accept a compromise that would limit Client F's contact with prior clients for the restricted period.
Client F was forced to take action. His new employer wanted reassurance that they would not be dragged into a lawsuit in Massachusetts. We had worked collaboratively with them to find a solution, but they needed more than that. His former employer refused to cooperate. We filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that the non compete was unenforceable.
We argued that the agreement was unenforceable under California law. We also argued that it was unreasonably restrictive given the absence of a legitimate business interest to protect. Client F did not have any meaningful customer relationships. He also was not privy to trade secrets or confidential information that would justify an enforceable non compete agreement.
Once the former employer realized they had to defend a lawsuit, we reached a resolution. Client F was released from his non compete with certain reasonable restrictions, and started his new job with the California company.
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Unenforceable Non-Compete Case Study: Takeaways
There are a number of lessons to be learned from this example that may help you if you are facing a dispute over a non compete agreement
- You don't have to wait for your employer to sue you. Sometimes it is to your advantage to be the first one to go to court, as it was in this case.
- Your lawyer should be prepared to speak with your new employer to try to reach a compromise without litigation. But if that is not possible, they should be prepared to initiate litigation if necessary.
- If you are effectively blocked from starting a new job by the threat of a lawsuit, it may make sense for you to act first.
- It is always worth examining the specifics of your role with your former employer. If stopping your from working does not protect the employer from something the law recognizes, the agreement may not be enforceable.
Can We Help You?
We have years of experience representing people in non compete lawsuits in Massachusetts state and federal courts, as well as responding to cease and desist letters, and we would be happy to help. You can use the button below to schedule a call back from a member of our team, give us a call at 781-784-2322, or fill out our web form to let us know a little more about your situation.