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I'm Robert Wood, a Texas litigation attorney. I have handled matters involving Texas non-compete agreements for nearly 30 years. I use this blog to help Texas employers and workers understand the common misconceptions surrounding the enforcement of non-competes in Texas. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to shoot me a message or give me a call at 469-754-2812.

Calculating a Noncompete’s Geographic Scope: By Driving Distance, Or “As The Crow Flies”?

July 12, 2021 / By Robert Wood

Calculating a Noncompete's Geographic Scope This is a topic that occasionally comes up with respect to geographic limits on Texas noncompetes.

If the noncompete provision contains a 10-mile geographic scope, does that mean ten miles measured in driving distance or ten miles through the air? Sometimes, this is an important distinction, because a particular point might be ten miles away through the air, but 10.5 miles away per Google Maps.

There is not much case law on this issue. However, a 2018 case from a federal district court in Dallas contained this holding:

[T]he non-compete as written is ambiguous. The non-compete prohibits former employees from working for a TrueBlue competitor located in “any area within 25 miles” of Defendants’ former TrueBlue office, but fails to specify how that distance is measured. Courts diverge in how to calculate distance when a covenant lacks the express language, but many resolve such ambiguities against the drafter. Thus, because Electrical Talent is located more than 25 road-miles away from the TrueBlue office, Doc. 15, Defs.’ Resp., 7, TrueBlue has not met its burden to show that Defendants are violating the non-compete by working at Electrical Talent.

So, depending upon the language in the noncompete provision at issue, the geographic scope may be measured in “road miles” or “as the crow flies.” And in some cases, this difference can make all the difference.

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About the Author

Robert Wood has been a Texas trial lawyer since 1993. During that time, he has represented small, mid-sized, and Fortune 100 companies in business and employment litigation matters all over Texas and the United States. He has also advised and represented hundreds of individuals in employment litigation matters. Read more about Robert Wood