Enforcing Restrictive Covenants in Pennsylvania Employment Agreements

Posted in Employment Law on Tuesday, August 20, 2013.

Previously, in a PA employment law blog, I addressed restrictive covenants including non-competition clauses in such agreements. Here, I want to focus on the mechanism to enforce them. More and more frequently I am seeing employers who want to enforce agreements, particularly agreements not to compete, against their employees. Generally speaking, somewhere along the way, the employer has asked the employee to sign an agreement with numerous various provisions, including that the employee will not leave and go to work for a competitor.
Of course, the reason I get the case is because the employee has left the employer and now the employer wants to stop the employee from working at their new job. How will the employer do that?
First, the employer will…

…have their attorney send out a nasty letter to both the departing employee and the new employer. This letter will remind the employee and their new employer of the agreement and will insist that the employee cease and desist from performing any further work. If the employee does not immediately cease further work activities, the lawyer will threaten the next step.
The second step, then, will be for the employer to file suit in the courts. Typically the employment lawsuit will be filed in the court of common pleas for the applicable county – in fact, many times the agreement itself will contain a paragraph that will control where a lawsuit must be filed.
As part of the lawsuit, the employer will ask the court to put an immediate stop to the employment activities of the employee and the new employer. This procedure is called “injunctive relief.” The court will generally hold a prompt hearing to decide whether to grant an injunction or not. After that initial determination, a more lengthy court case unfolds, often taking a year or more, to determine if a permanent injunction is proper.
If you have questions about the enforceability of an employment agreement, including those with restrictive covenants, contact the Pennsylvania employment law attorneys at www.yourlawfirmforlife.com for help.