A non-compete agreement serves to restrict the right of an employee from competing with a previous employer after the end of an employment relationship. In general, non-competition agreements will be strictly construed against employers. These agreements must be as narrowly drafted as possible to protect the vital interests of the employer. For more information about the enforceability of non-competition agreements, see our discussion of the laws for Maryland, D.C., and Virginia.
Can A Court Force Me To Quit My New Job?
You’ve left your previous employer to work for a competitor, doing similar work, and now your previous employer sues you for breaching your non-competition agreement. What now? Will you have to quit your new job?
In a similar scenario, General Counsel, P.C. attorney, Andrew Baxter, recently successfully argued for his client when the former employer wanted the court to issue a preliminary injunction, forcing the client to terminate her employment with her new employer.
When deciding whether or not to grant a preliminary injunction, a court will consider whether or not: (1) the plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits of the case; (2) the plaintiff is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) the balance of equities tip in the plaintiff’s favor; and (4) the injunction is in the public interest.
In the case recently argued by General Counsel, P.C., the client was a physician who terminated her employment at a medical institution to work for a competing medical institution. The previous employer argued that the physician’s new employment with a competitor caused them to lose patients and that to prevent the continued loss of patients, the physician should be required to terminate her employment for the competitor, since the physician had breached her non-competition agreement.
After analyzing the factors, the court rejected the request for an injunction and allowed the physician to continue her employment. The court determined that in that case, the damages were ascertainable. Since injunctions are generally not favored by the court, the court found that since any damages owed to the previous employer could be easily calculated, monetary damages, rather than an injunction would be the appropriate remedy. The court also noted that it was in the public interest to have more doctors and for individuals to have more options for their health care needs.
It is important to keep in mind that just because a court decided not to grant an injunction in this case, that doesn’t apply to every case. These types of issues are decided on a case-by-case basis, and other situations may be decided differently. However, a takeaway from the court’s finding may be that an employee should not reasonably expect a court to grant injunctive relief for a non-competition agreement in Virginia where (1) monetary losses are calculable, and (2) the employee performing his job serves the public interest.
Call General Counsel PC Today
Whether you’re an employer or employee wondering about a breach of a non-competition agreement, attorneys at General Counsel PC can provide you with knowledge and assistance to better understand your rights. Our attorneys are experienced in reviewing, drafting, negotiating, and litigating non-compete and non-solicitation agreements for businesses and individuals across Virginia, specifically in Fairfax County, Arlington, Loudoun County, and Prince William. Call General Counsel PC at 703-556-0411 today to see how we can help you protect your legal rights.