Peter A. Steinmeyer, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Chicago office, was quoted in Law360, in “What Noncompete Lawyers Ought to Be Watching in 2019,” by Braden Campbell. (Read the full version – subscription required.)
Following is an excerpt:
Attorneys who handle restrictive covenants will be following a handful of cases and open legal questions as the new year progresses, including a series of suits challenging no-poach agreements and an anticipated wave of litigation over Massachusetts’ new noncompete law. Here, Law360breaks down what lawyers will be keeping an eye on. …
Enforceability in Illinois
The new year should also see a ruling in an Illinois noncompete case that notably saw an appeals panel decline a request to label noncompete agreements lasting more than three years as unreasonably long.
Pam’s Academy of Dance sued former instructor Callie Marik, alleging she violated a noncompete agreement barring her from opening her own dance studio within 25 miles of Pam’s for five years after leaving, and from soliciting Pam’s students for three years after leaving.
Marik asked the court to dismiss the suit, arguing in part that the agreement was invalid because it lasted too long. After the court denied her motion, Marik appealed, asking Illinois’ Third Appellate District to label noncompetes lasting three or five years illegal on their face.
But the appeals court declined, reiterating its command that judges look at noncompetes on a case-by-case basis.
Peter Steinmeyer, co-leader of Epstein Becker Green’s trade secrets and employee mobility strategic initiative, said the decision was “interesting” given the recent trend of courts — especially in Illinois — of looking critically at noncompete agreements. Still, employers generally face an uphill battle when they try to enforce such lengthy noncompetes, he said.
“The courts do consistently say that the analysis has to be done on a case-by-case basis,” Steinmeyer said. “But as a practical matter, a five-year noncompete, other than in the sale of business context, is very unlikely to be enforced.”