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Employees Beware: Courts Can - and Will - Redraft Overbroad Noncompetes


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1/1/2016
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Towards the end of last year, one of Texas' appellate courts issued a lengthy decision that nailed the former employer of an inspector of oil and gas refinery equipment in Sentinel Integrity Solutions v. Mitras Group, et al. to the tune of $750,000, for, essentially tortiously interfering with his new employment.

The takeway from that case, at least from a New York law perspective, is completely different: it's employee beware.

Why?

Because the only reason that the employer was hit with monetary fines was for attorneys' fees, which are expressly provided for under Texas law (that is distinctly NOT the case in New York).

However, the court did agree to refine, or re-draft, the noncompete agreement to make it less restrictive, and under the new terms put forth by the court, brought the agreement into conformity with Texas law.

Here's the point:

An employee cannot inherently assume that if his noncompete as drafted, if overbroad under New York law, will automatically be disregarded in its entirety by a court; there is a strong chance that the court will "blue-line" the agreement to bring it into conformity with New York law before throwing it out completely.
 



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