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Superior Court of Pennsylvania Upholds Employer’s Non-Compete Agreement That was Incidental to Employment and Reasonable in Time and Scope

In Tyco Fire Products, L.P. v. Fuchs, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania held that Tyco Fire Products, L.P.’s (“Tyco”) non-compete agreement was enforceable against its former employee (“Fuchs”). 2017, WL 5509889 (Pa. Super. 2017). Tyco designs, manufactures, and distributes fire protection products such as chemical water and other fire preventative measures.  Fuchs worked as a senior sales manager for Tyco for approximately ten years. During his time at Tyco, Fuchs signed a Confidentially Agreement and a Non-Competition Agreement (the non-compete agreement). This non-compete agreement stated that Fuchs may not “employ, engage, or enter into employment” with any competing business in the Northeast (including 11 states) for a period of 12 months.  After his resignation in 2016, Fuchs began work at Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Company, Inc. which engages in the same type of business as Tyco. While employed at Reliable, Fuchs contacted former Tyco customers and engaged in business inside of the restricted zone of the non-compete.

When analyzing a non-compete agreement, the court will determine if the agreement is “incident to an employment relationship between the parties; the restrictions imposed by the covenant are reasonably necessary for the protection of the employer; and the restrictions imposed are reasonably limited in duration and geographic extent.”  Fuchs argued that Tyco’s non-compete agreement was unreasonably broad in both duration and geographic location.

The Court rejected Fuchs’ argument and found that the Tyco Agreement was enforceable under the required analysis. The Court ruled that the agreement was incidental to an employment relationship because of his actual employment as a sales manager for Tyco. Secondly, the Court ruled that Tyco’s agreement was reasonably necessary to protect Tyco’s legitimate business interests. In ruling on this issue, the Court looked to the fact that Reliable was in the same business as Tyco and Fuchs’ contact with the Tyco customers during his time at Reliable clearly show that there was a need to protect legitimate business interests. Lastly, and most importantly, the Court found that the 12-month (1 year) limitation was well within the reasonable limitations period and the 11-state geographic restriction was reasonable because Fuchs’ had conducted business in all restricted states during his time at Tyco. Thus, the Court ruled in favor of Tyco and affirmed the trial court’s decision.

Philadelphia non-compete lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. protect employees’ right to work. For assistance in any type of employment law matter, call 215-574-0600 to schedule a consultation in our Philadelphia office, where we represent clients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, or contact us online.