Trade Secrets & Employee Mobility Blog on Illinois Non-Competes Featured in Practical Law

Thomson Reuters Practical Law

Thomson Reuters Practical Law recently featured a Trade Secrets & Employee Mobility blog post titled “‘Janitor Problem’ Sinks Illinois Non-Compete,” authored by Peter A. Steinmeyer, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Chicago office.

Following is an excerpt:

We non-compete lawyers often rely on an old rule of thumb when analyzing the enforceability of a non-compete: if the restriction is so broad that it would even prohibit an employee from working as a janitor for a competitor, then it is very unlikely to be enforced by a judge. And so when a federal judge expressly endorses such a rule of thumb, the urge to blog about it is simply irresistible.

In Medix Staffing Solutions Inc. v. Daniel Dumrauf, Judge Ellis of the Northern District of Illinois addressed the enforceability of a restrictive covenant which prohibited employment in any capacity at another company in the industry. The defendant argued that this restriction was so broad that it “would bar him from even working as a janitor at another company.” While Judge Ellis described that example as “a bit far-fetched,” she nonetheless found “no language in the Covenant that makes it an inaccurate statement of [the Covenant’s] prohibitions.” Accordingly, she held that the restriction was unenforceable on its face and that “[t]here is no factual scenario under which it would be reasonable.” Accordingly, she held that “[t]his is an ‘extreme case’ where dismissal at the motion to dismiss stage is permissible and appropriate.”