A medical practice may require a doctor to sign an employment contract that contains a covenant not to compete, thereby restricting the doctor’s ability to work elsewhere after employment with the contracting medical practice ends. Unfortunately, many doctors sign employment agreements with harsh non-compete covenants, either under the misimpression that these provisions are not enforceable in Texas or under the mistaken belief that the employment opportunity will last until retirement.
But these agreements are enforceable, as long as certain conditions are met. And, disputes can and do arise between doctors and medical practices, often leading one party to a employment contract to terminate the relationship earlier than expected. For these reasons, Keith Clouse, a Dallas employment law attorney who regularly advises doctors regarding non-compete agreements, recommends that a doctor presented with a non-compete agreement seek counsel prior to signing it.
An attorney can ensure that the covenant not to compete complies with the state’s Covenants Not to Compete Act, including the Act’s provisions that apply only to physicians. An attorney can also work with a doctor to determine if the potential restrictions upon the doctor’s ability to work are fair and, if not, negotiate a more appropriate agreement.
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