The hard work that you’ve put into building your business can be wasted in short order if you don’t know how to protect your interests. That’s why we often encourage our clients to utilize non-disclosure agreements. In order for these agreements to be enforceable, though, you’ll have to ensure that they’re “reasonable” under Texas law, which we discussed in a previous post.
But what should you do if you suspect that a former employee is violating the terms of a non-disclosure agreement? You’ll want to take legal action as quickly as possible, which will probably include seeking a temporary restraining order, oftentimes referred to as a TRO.
What you need to know about TROs
Generally speaking, a TRO will be sought as part of pending litigation in an attempt to maintain the status quo while your lawsuit against the former employee is pending. This order restricts an individual’s behavior until the court can hear evidence to determine if a permanent injunction is warranted.
Although you can provide notice to the former employee when you seek a temporary restraining order, you can obtain one of these orders ex parte.
In order to do so, you’ll have to submit a verified petition that alleges facts sufficient to support the request. If the court grants your request, then the matter will be set for a hearing in short order to determine if the restraining order should continue.
There may be other requirements that you have to fulfill when you seek one of these restraining orders. For example, you may have to post a bond meant to protect the former employee in the event that they’re harmed by the restraining order.
What do you need to show?
In order to obtain a TRO, you’ll have to show that money alone is insufficient to compensate you for the harm that’ll befall you if the former employee discloses confidential information. This typically means that you’ll have to demonstrate that you’ll suffer permanent and irreparable harm if the TRO isn’t granted.
This means that you’ll have to look to factors other than economic motivators to justify your request for a TRO. This might include the release of trade secrets, the fraudulent use of intellectual property, or some other harm to your business’s reputation.
What are your next steps after obtaining a TRO?
After obtaining a TRO, you’ll have to have a hearing on the matter to determine if the order should become an injunction while your lawsuit plays out. That said, you’ll have to file a lawsuit in order to maintain the protection that you’ve been granted by the court.
Therefore, you’ll want to make sure you have a strong basis for taking legal action against your former employee. This should be pretty easy to tell given that it’ll most likely be a clear violation of a written and signed agreement, but these cases can be fraught with legal nuances that can challenge your position.
Don’t get caught flat-footed when time matters
That’s why you might want to carefully think through your legal strategy as you prepare to litigate these matters and seek a TRO and a subsequent injunction. And time is of the essence here, too. Therefore, you might want to get a legal ally on your side who is ready to quickly and aggressively advocate to protect your business.
We know you have a lot of options in that regard, but not all business litigation teams are created the same. That’s why we’d encourage you to research those firms that are enticing to you so that you can choose the representation that’s best for you and your business.