Los Angeles Non-Compete Agreement Lawyer

Are non-compete agreements enforceable in California?

In California, many companies require employees to sign non-compete agreements or customer non-solicitation employment contracts as a condition of their employment. Often times an employee of company “X” will resign and gain employment with company “Y” — a direct competitor of company “X”. In other situations, an employee of company “X” will start his or her own business and solicit current or former customers of company “X”. In these situations, employers will seek court assistance in an effort to compel their former employees to honor non-compete and customer non-solicitation agreements.

At the law office of Fisher & Talwar, we have extensive experience in representing employers and employees in non-compete contract disputes. We offer a position of strength from our experience in handling both sides of highly complicated employment disputes. Our law firm’s non-compete agreement attorneys in Los Angeles will take every measure possible to protect your interests. Contact our law firm today to schedule a free initial consultation at our Los Angeles law firm.

Defining Non-compete Agreements in California

Non-compete agreements generally contain language saying the employee will not render services, directly or indirectly, for a period of one year after separation of employment with a competitor of a former employer.

Unlike many other states, in California, these types of non-compete or anti-solicitation agreements are generally void and not enforceable. This is true even if the non-compete agreement is narrowly tailored, i.e., limited in geographic location and time. This is because California Business and Professions Code §16600 states:

“Except as provided in this Chapter, every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void.”

Until recently, California courts unanimously used the so-called trade secret exemption to enforce these non-compete/non-solicitation agreements. Specifically, courts routinely held that a non-compete agreement was valid and enforceable if it was necessary to protect the trade secrets of the former employer.

In the recent case of Dowell v. Biosense Webster, Inc., California Court of Appeal questioned whether or not there was a common law trade secret exception to Business and Professions Code Section 16600. Following in the footsteps of Edwards v. Arthur Andersen LLP and The Retirement Group v. Galante, the Dowell court concluded that Section 16600 “prohibits employee non-competition agreements unless the agreement falls within a statutory exception.”

The Dowell court further noted:

“Section 16600 bars a court from specifically enforcing (by way of injunctive relief) a contractual clause purporting to ban a former employee from soliciting former customers to transfer their business away from the former employer to the employee’s new business, but a court may enjoin tortious conduct (as violative of either the Uniform Trade Secret Act and/or the unfair competition law) by banning the former employee from using trade secret information.”

Hence, according to the Dowell court, claims of misappropriation of trade secrets are actionable and the “conduct is enjoyable not because it falls within a judicially created ‘exception’ to section 16600’s ban on contractual non-solicitation clauses, but is instead enjoyable because it is wrongful independent of any contractual undertaking.”

California Non-Compete Agreement Lawyers

If you are involved in a trade secrets misappropriation claim it is vital to have an experienced non-compete agreement attorney on your side. At Fisher & Talwar, we are highly skilled in litigating misappropriation of trade secret claims.

Enforcement of Anti-Raiding Claims

Many employers require their employees to sign employment agreements. The agreements are designed to prohibit employees from soliciting or encouraging other employees to leave their employment in order to join a direct competitor. These types of agreements are often called “anti-raiding” agreements. Unlike noncompete agreements that violate California public policy and are therefore unenforceable, California courts have in some situations upheld nonsolicitation of employee agreements. Los Angeles non-compete agreement attorneys at Fisher & Talwar are highly qualified in litigating nonsolicitation of employee agreements.

Handling Anti-Raiding Claims in Southern California

The validity of these agreements will depend upon:

  • The reasonableness of the restrictions;
  • The impact they may have on the trade; and
  • The person being restrained and potential pool of employees

Thus, if the anti-employee-solicitation covenant slightly impacts one’s ability to compete but allows the employer to maintain its workforce and continue to engage in its business, the courts will likely uphold the restrictive covenant.

Contact Our California Anti-Employee Raiding Claims Attorneys

The attorneys at Fisher & Talwar are well versed in litigating nonsolicitation of employees or anti-employee raiding claims.Contact our Los Angeles non-compete agreement attorneys online or call (213) 891-0777 to schedule a free initial consultation. We are available to meet with you between 8:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Evening and weekend consultations are available by appointment.