By Jeronimo Valdez
Just a few decades ago most Americans were firm believers in “career jobs,” where they could spend nearly their entire life working for a single company in return for a good retirement pension. In the “good ol’ days,” employees were loyal to their employers as a result of being rewarded with excellent benefits.
However, in today’s uncertain economic environment private companies can no longer afford to keep life-long employees. During the great recession, for instance, many companies were forced to terminate a large number of workers. In many situations, the terminated employees were considered “key personnel,” who had access to highly confidential information (client contacts, pricing, etc.). Those “key employees” were taking the company’s assets to direct competitors, and contributing in the collapse of the businesses.
In the business world, confidential information constitutes the most valuable of all company assets and losing it can be fatal.
But, how do you keep this from happening to you?
The answer is relatively simple and straightforward: employment agreements.
The first (and often last) line of defense against an employee’s unauthorized use of company assets is what is frequently referred to as a “non-compete agreement.” Many companies also use “non-disclosure” and “non-solicitation” agreements to ensure that current and former employees are prohibited from disclosing confidential information or soliciting any of the company’s customers or clients. Within a single agreement an employer can ensure the health, protection and ultimate survival of the company even in the most unexpected of situations. Although non-compete agreements have been historically difficult to enforce, Texas courts have been willing to enforce well-drafted non-compete agreements.
If you are a business owner, you should seriously consider requiring your employees or independent contractors to sign non-compete or non-disclosure agreements. Although your intent isn’t to arbitrarily fire workers and keep them from finding other jobs, the reality
is that you have to consider what’s best for your business. Most of the time the employee or independent contractor will understand your concern and sign the agreement. Your business will no longer be at risk.