A new decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit reminds us how important choice-of-law can be in non-compete agreements. In this case, the choice of law clause was likely the difference between success and failure for an employer seeking an injunction enforcing its non-compete. Continue reading
Tip 1: Choose your choice of law wisely and FIRST.
- The law you choose to apply to a restrictive covenant is regularly outcome determinative in enforcement proceedings (e.g. Illinois’ rule on at-will employment as consideration, North Carolina’s rule on blue-penciling, Louisiana’s law on geographic scope, Florida’s statute on presumptive validity, etc.)
- And there are sometimes three or four states from which to pick:
- where the employer or seller is located (state of incorporation or principal place of business)
- where the employee or purchaser is located
- where the place of performance is located.
- So take the opportunity to pick the law that is most likely to do what your client already presumes will be done: your restrictive covenants will be enforced.
- Relatively speaking, Delaware –often the default state of incorporation– is a solid and defensible choice.
Variations in non-compete law from state to state can be frustrating for employers with multi-state workforces. A restriction that works in one state might be invalid in another.
A common fix is to include a choice-of-law clause designating a state that favors enforcement of non-competes, but the enforceability of such clauses also varies widely in different jurisdictions. That’s why the Northern District of Illinois’ recent PCM Sales, Inc. v. Reed decision enforcing an Ohio choice-of-law clause against an Illinois employee is a big win for employers. Continue reading