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Non-compete in Texas-Can they single me out?

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I signed a non-compete for a company I went to work for selling commodity items 2 years ago. In this 2 years they have been bought out twice and 6 months ago by a national corporation. The buy-outs caused much turmoil and over 20 other reps and upper management have resigned in the last 12 months and as recently as 3 months ago. The corporation has also begun downsizing and laying off managers and reps just recently. All of those who left signed the same non-compete contact that I did but went to work for competitors without any recourse. Last month I also resigned to work for a competitor after my former manager was laid off. I just recieved a letter from my former employers legal dept threatening to persue legal action against me for violating my non-compete agreement. I am the only one they have contacted and by no means the "biggest producer" that left. If worse case scenario my non-compete was really enforcable..can they single me out and put me through a legal battle? I feel that I am being used to set an example for other reps rumored to be in the next lay-off. And also becuase they know I am a single parent and cannot afford to fight them. The non-compete also states I cannot work in any county I had previously worked in with them. That creates another problem becuase the month before I resigned I was switched to a new territory..that means now I cannot do business in any county within 100 miles surrounding the town I live in. Since I cannot move myself and children out of this county (something written into my custoday agreement with the ex)...would that play any part in protecting my rights to work. I also sold to many city and county entities who they listed as being their customers and insisted If I call on them with my new company I am violating the agreement. Since these are public entities..isnt their purchasing a matter of public record and open to anyone? I had told a few customers before I left I was moving to another company. A few said they were not happy with the deliveries, billing and back-orders and the only reason they were still doing business with my former company was becuase of me. So they asked me to contact them once I got settled in. So I am servicing about 20% of my old clientele with my new company. I would appreciate any input or information on my situation.



Generally speaking non-compete agreements are held to be lawful. There are of course limitations to them. One that you mention is a geographical limitation. The main thing is that the agreement has to protect the employer's interests (such as a customer list, or proprietary information) without denying the former employee the right to make a living. I would say that now is the time for you to visit an employment law attorney and get his analysis of the non-compete agreement you signed, as well as the former employer's letter to you. You can find an attorney at attorneypages.com.

Mark B. Replogle

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