Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Non-Compete Covenant Not Up to Light v. Centel Cellular Standard

Although recognized by every court as the standard for determining the validity of a covenant not to compete, the application of Light v. Centel Cellular [pdf] is not always that easy to follow. In Strickland v. Medtronic, Inc. (Ct. App. - Dallas 1/29/03) decided yesterday, the Dallas Court of Appeals makes the standard clear.

Importantly, it also rules on a question that comes up repeatedly, holding that general language about providing confidential information will not be enough to constitute a non-illusory promise (and therefore is not enough to support a covenant not to compete). Even if such general language were an implied promise (which the court finds it is not), it would still not be sufficient because it would require that the employee work for a certain period of time. Since the court found the employee relationship to be at will, any promise conditioned on a period of employment would be illusory.


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