The TRO granted in favor of plaintiff Robert Garcia against his former employer USA Industries, Inc. in Harris County District Court (case #202109178) almost a year ago is just one decision, but it opens the door to Texas judges perhaps scrutinizing the time and scope more liberally in favor of employees laid off in times of COVID. While a TRO does not make a final decision on the merits as to the enforceability of a non-compete, the fact that an employee was able to enjoin his former employer from contacting his potential new employers pending the outcome of the case indicates there may be a reluctance by judges to enforce non-competes in the same manner as pre-COVID due to former employees having a tougher time finding work in their area of expertise.

Potentially further complicating employer’s efforts to enforce non-competes are bills filed in both Congress and Texas, and federal administrative agency guidance, which all aims to increase scrutiny of non-competes … particularly in situations where an employee was terminated for not complying with an employer’s vaccine mandate (H.R. 5851 even seeks to completely void non-competes in such case).

Going forward, it is even more important for businesses to work with legal counsel to ensure their non-compete restrictions are narrowly tailored to protect the company’s legitimate business interests. Otherwise, employers may find it more difficult and costlier to enforce their non-competes in COVID times.


LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This article is provided for educational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice.