» 2011 » July

Enforceability of Noncompete Agreement Raised in Texas Hair Salon Lawsuit

An appeals decision in the Fifth District Court in Dallas, Texas shows that employees who have at-will status can still be subject to noncompete employment agreements. The appeals court decided in late May that a trial court had erroneously thrown out the case of the Jon Scott Salon, Inc. v. Jacalyn Garcia and Lindsey Gresham. Garcia and Gresham worked for the Jon Scott Salon and in their employment agreements had signed that they would not directly or inadvertently market to the salon’s customers within a 10-mile radius for one year when they left the company.

When these two hair stylists and cosmetologists terminated their employment on April 13, 2010, they started a new salon within the off-limit radius. Jon Scott allegedly started to get an extraordinary amount of no-show appointments and cancellations. At the original trial, Jon Scott claimed breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential information, theft, conversion, and breach of fiduciary duty. The trial judge threw out the case due to their at-will employment, but in the appellate court, the judge said that status does not bar their employment contract responsibilities. The lawsuit will now go back to the trial court to decide if the hair stylists violated the noncompete agreement.

The appellant opinion stated that, “…once the employer fulfills the promise to divulge the confidential information, the contract becomes enforceable and may support a covenant not to compete.” By signing the documents and using the salon for, “…opportunities and resources to develop contacts and goodwill, they agreed to refrain from using the goodwill for the benefit of any person or entity other than appellant [Jon Scott Salon].”

In a personal-service industry such as a hair salon, non-compete agreements can be vital to the business’ success, especially with the high employee turnover that the industry has. It’s not just high-paid technology, sales, or CEO positions that may warrant these types of agreements to safeguard a company’s client base, and marketing and sales tactics. Texas law on noncompete agreements has changed dramatically over the years, and courts look to numerous factors to determine enforceability.

Disputes involving noncompete agreements can be complex, so having a knowledgeable business attorney on your side – whether you are a business owner, individual, or employee – is advised.

Austin noncompete attorney, Austin business attorney and Austin business litigation attorney Gregory D. Jordan has more than 20 years of experience working on behalf of individuals and businesses in many diverse industries. He can help answer questions about the enforceability of these agreements and what conduct is allowed under a noncompete agreement. To learn more, please contact Austin noncompete lawyer and Austin business litigation attorney Gregory D. Jordan at http://www.theaustintriallawyer.com or call (512) 419-0684.

Gregory D. Jordan is an Austin business attorney, Austin employment lawyer, and Austin business litigation lawyer. To learn more, visit Theaustintriallawyer.com.

The Latest in Texas Food Truck Legal and Operational News

El Paso, Texas recently eased regulations against mobile food vendors after four food truck owners represented by litigators at the Institute of Justice filed a lawsuit against the city challenging the constitutionality of the city’s mobile vending restrictions. El Paso ordinances had previously made it illegal for food trucks to be within 1,000 feet of a restaurant or convenience store.

The federal lawsuit of Castaneda v. the City of El Paso asserted that food truck vendors’ constitutional right to “earn an honest living free from unreasonable and arbitrary government interference” was violated. The City of El Paso was stifling competition, a basic principle of capitalism, they said. The Institute of Justice initiated this lawsuit as part of their National Street Vending Initiative to uphold the rights of street vendors everywhere to run their businesses.

“Using government power to place burdensome restrictions on street vendors in order to protect brick-and-mortar businesses from competition is not a valid use of the government’s police power,” said Arif Panju, an attorney at the Institute for Justice Texas Chapter.

El Paso’s food truck vendors can now sell almost anywhere and are now permitted to park curbside during breakfast, lunch, or dinner rush times. Beforehand, they were only allowed to park if customers were already present and had to drive away when no one was flagging them down. “All I want to do is work,” said Maria Robledo, one of the plaintiffs, who has had her food truck business for 13 years in the city. “I am happy that the city is not going to stop me from running my business.”

In most cities, food trucks must pay sales tax, pay fees and obtain permits to be a street vendor, and pass fire department inspections as well as health department inspections. In Austin, Texas, where a thriving food truck scene exists, the city recently tightened its rules, requiring food trucks to even file their truck routes. Food trucks are a booming industry in Austin, with an estimated 1,620 mobile food vendors expected by the end of 2011. The Economist Magazine states the sentiment of consumers is that, “…trucks offer cheap, often innovative dining. They also permit a degree of whimsy that may seem cloying in a restaurant. Trucks will never supplant restaurants. But so long as money remains tight, they will provide a welcome and increasingly prevalent alternative.”

Food trucks dotted throughout the city sell sandwiches, tacos, barbecue, desserts, and even gourmet and rare foods. Nationally, a food truck chef was named one of the best chefs in the U.S. and even food trucks have earned Zagat ratings. Thus, it is no wonder that these businesses are now more likely to seek legal representation to assert their rights.

Austin restaurant attorney and Austin business litigation attorney Gregory D. Jordan has more than 20 years of experience working on behalf of individuals and businesses in the restaurant industry. He represents clients when disputes arise due to financing and loans, equipment leasing, franchise agreements, supply and distribution agreements, intellectual property rights, noncompete agreements, partnership and joint venture agreements, as well as claims against insurers. To learn more, please contact Austin restaurant attorney, Austin business lawyer and Austin business litigation attorney Gregory D. Jordan at http://www.theaustintriallawyer.com or call (512) 419-0684.

Gregory D. Jordan is an Austin business attorney, Austin employment lawyer, and Austin business litigation lawyer. To learn more, visit Theaustintriallawyer.com.

$39M at Stake in Houston Breach of Contract Dispute

MRO Services, LLC thought it was beginning a great business relationship with the Dresser-Rand Group, Inc. in mid March of this year to market and sell Dresser-Rand’s maintenance agreements and equipment services. Yet little after a month of doing business, Dresser-Rand terminated what was supposed to be a five year exclusive contract. MRO was to earn $35,000 a month for the first year of the agreement as a retainer fee, a commission of up to 5 percent for all maintenance agreements sold, and reimbursement of travel costs as approved by Dresser-Rand’s budget.

When MRO was served a letter ending the agreement on April 18, MRO started looking into why Dresser-Rand terminated the relationship. MRO’s lawsuit and complaint documents in Texas’ 113th District Court allege that the contract ended because Dresser-Rand said that MRO’s founder had acted improperly at a social gathering they hosted. MRO says this is “bogus” and alleges that Dresser-Rand wrongfully ended the contract and owes it $38.9 million in damages.

MRO focuses on technical and service-related risk management products for power plants and the energy industry. Dresser-Rand’s maintenance products, heavy industrial turbines, and steam turbines were a good fit for MRO’s many energy industry clients.

“Even if these specious allegations were completely true, Dresser-Rand still had no contractual right to terminate the agreement,” the complaint says. Instead, MRO claims Dresser-Rand might have not realized the true cost of the contract, Dresser’s senior personnel might have viewed them as a threat or did not want them to work for a competitor, or wanted to scale back its operations with power plants.

When businesses are faced with complex contract disputes and terminations, it is imperative that they get legal counsel early on. Austin business litigation attorney and Austin breach of contract attorney Gregory D. Jordan understands the importance of resolving business disputes quickly and efficiently. Most business disputes can be settled short of litigation; yet if litigation is the only route, you want a trial attorney that will aggressively pursue and protect your business’ rights.

At the Law Offices of Gregory D. Jordan, Austin business litigation lawyer and Austin breach of contract attorney Gregory D. Jordan has more than 20 years of experience successfully representing businesses and individuals in business contract disputes. To learn more, please contact Austin business attorney Gregory D. Jordan at http://www.theaustintriallawyer.com or call (512) 419-0684.

Gregory D. Jordan is an Austin business attorney, Austin employment lawyer, and Austin business litigation lawyer. To learn more, visit Theaustintriallawyer.com.

Austin Attorney Gregory D. Jordan Advocates Legal Guidance to Lessen the Rollercoaster Ride in the Oil and Gas Industry

Austin, Texas – The leasing, exploration, production, sale and transportation of oil and gas can be a rollercoaster ride filled with booms and busts. Not only do landowners and producers have to deal with fast changing economics, but every week, numerous lawsuits appear in Texas courts and beyond challenging the rights of one party or another. Disputes over leases, royalties, mineral ownership and processing occur frequently. The oil and gas industry can be a white-knuckle ride for those landowners or businesses without proper legal guidance.

“Skilled legal counsel can help you untangle difficult situations,” said Austin oil and gas attorney Gregory D. Jordan. “If you are a mineral owner who is considering signing a lease or you are concerned that an oil company may not be performing as it should on your property, it’s a good idea to talk with knowledgeable legal counsel. The decisions you make about your minerals could impact the remainder of your life.”

Oil and gas law is a unique legal field. Most attorneys have little or no experience with it. When someone is confronted with an issue involving leasing acreage or an oil and gas dispute, it is important for them to know whether their attorney is knowledgeable in this area. Just as you would not go to a podiatrist to perform heart surgery, it might not be in your best interests to seek legal advice on oil and gas matters from an attorney who lacks experience in this area.

“At times, dealing with an oil and gas company can make someone feel like they’re on a rollercoaster,” Jordan said. “A good oil and gas attorney can give his client confidence in going over the bumps. He should be able to intelligently discuss the law in this area so a client can make informed decisions.”

It is helpful if an oil and gas attorney has substantial experience in the oil and gas industry so that he will understand his client’s needs. For example, Jordan notes that he has been involved in the oil and gas industry for more than 30 years, and before obtaining his law degree, he worked as a petroleum landman and petroleum engineer. Since becoming a lawyer he has experience in:
– negotiating oil and gas leases for landowners and oil companies
– representing oil and gas companies and individuals before the Railroad Commission
– working with engineers and other technical experts
– counseling mineral owners and oil companies on their rights and options
– property damage claims
– claims regarding royalty payments
– claims involving purported property development issues
– unitization and pooling disputes
– processing or gathering of oil and gas production complaints

Gregory D. Jordan is an Austin, Texas oil and gas attorney, Austin business litigation lawyer and Austin business attorney. To learn more, please go to http://www.theaustintriallawyer.com or call (512) 419-0684.

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