On July 15, 2013, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly published an article entitled "Principle that invalidates noncompetes gains traction." "The 'material change doctrine,' a unique feature of Massachusetts [noncompetition and non-solicitation] . . . law, is the principle that a noncompete agreement is voided if there are material changes to an employee's duties or compensation after the agreement is signed."
In describing recent rulings interpreting the material change doctrine, Lawyers Weekly cited two cases in which Todd & Weld attorneys obtained positive results for their clients. In the 2004 case, Lycos v. Jackson, Todd & Weld attorneys represented Young Mi Chun, one of the defendants. Superior Court Judge Julian T. Houston ruled that "[a]ny time a restrictive covenant is signed by an employee, the employer must provide some clear additional benefit" and that "[e]ach time an employee's employment relationship with the employer changes materially such that they have entered into a new employment relationship, a new restrictive covenant must be signed."
In 2013, Todd & Weld attorneys Christopher R. O'Hara and Megan C. Deluhery represented the defendants, including a former Chief Operating Officer at DataPros, in Intepros, Inc. v. Athy, et al. Superior Court Judge Dennis J. Curran found that "the record shows here that Mr. Athy's employment relationship with Intepros materially changed over his many promotions . . . As a result, the non-competition agreement executed in 1997 between Mr. Athy and Intepros must be declared void and unenforceable."
These cases strongly underscore the importance of obtaining employment advice in advance concerning company policies and procedures in connection with promotions, demotions, and significant salary changes of employees with non-competition and non-solicitation agreements.
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