The history of non-compete laws in Colorado is one filled with drama as employers and employees struggle to protect their financial interests. Employers in certain industries spend a large amount of money recruiting, training, and employing individuals with certain valuable skill sets. Once that person is no longer an employee, the last thing an employer wants is for a competitor to benefit from his or her investment. Non-compete laws provide employers some protection by placing conditions on former employees that limit their ability to seek employment with direct competitors or establish their own businesses. The recent case of a Colorado physician has shaken non-compete law in the state by challenging the already limited laws.
Dr. Michael Crocker, a physician in Parker, Colorado, became a physician and shareholder at Greater Colorado Anesthesia. When the physician accepted his employment offer, he signed a contract that was an extensive employment agreement outlining the company’s policies. Within the agreement was a non-compete provision that prohibited physicians who ended their affiliation with Greater Colorado Anesthesia from practicing medicine with a 15-mile radius of any hospital that was serviced by Greater Colorado Anesthesia. When Greater Colorado Anesthesia decided to merge with another company in 2015, Dr. Crocker dissented and terminated his employment with the group. After Dr. Croker obtained employment with a Parker Colorado group, his former employer, Greater Colorado Anesthesia, sued him for violating the non-compete agreement.
Greater Colorado Anesthesia’s reason for taking Dr. Crocker to court was that he violated the non-compete by continuing to practice anesthesiology at hospitals within the 15-mile radius outlined in the employment agreement. The company also attempted to collect several thousand dollars in damages as outlined in the agreement. The agreement and non-compete were drafted based on Colorado’s non-compete laws that were initially drafted in 1982.
The case was heard in district court where a judge ruled that the non-compete was not enforceable based on Colorado’s laws. Greater Colorado Anesthesia appealed the decision leading to the Court of Appeals affirming the initial ruling and refusing to award damages or restrict the doctor from practicing medicine. Additionally, a senate bill was passed on April 2, 2018, that clarified Colorado’s non-compete statute in regards to physicians and reaffirming the right of Colorado courts to review damages related to non-compete agreements.
Review Your Non-Compete Agreement with an Attorney
In Colorado, non-compete agreements are usually non-enforceable, but that does not mean employers do not still require employees to sign them. Either through lack of competent counsel or willful ignorance, an employer may still attempt to restrict a former employee’s ability to work in a specific industry. If you believe that your employer has made you sign an agreement that is unenforceable or otherwise violates your rights, contact the non-compete attorneys at HKM Employment. Our firm is prepared to work with you to protect your rights and ensure that you are not being taken advantage of. Contact our Denver, Colorado office to schedule an initial consultation so that we can begin providing you with legal assistance.