Enforcing non-compete contracts

More and more employers are enforcing non-compete and confidentiality provisions in court, employment lawyer Sara A. Begley told me as she was heading into court Tuesday on a related case. More important, she said, courts are more willing to enforce these types of contracts.

Why? Because of computers. These days so much company information is on computers, so it's much easier to notice if documents, such as trade secrets or customer lists, have been removed. Begley, a partner at ReedSmith's Philadelphia office, said that in the past, judges were reluctant to curtail the ability of a departing employee to make a living absent very specific proof that company information had been taken.

Now that proof is much easier to get, she said, although it may require a computer forensics expert to find it. The economy is also a factor. The recession allowed companies to prune their staffs, retaining the very best they had. That means that each of those remaining employees is potentially more valuable and more worth spending the legal fees necessary to keep them from using company info if they jump ship. Begley usually represents management.