In many areas of the law, things are similar from state to state. Certainly, federal laws help ensure laws are similarly applied regardless of location. This is why we can look to other states when we talk about things such as race or gender discrimination; they are governed by Title VII, a federal law. On the other hand, there are areas of employment law that differ dramatically from state to state. The manner in which an employer can restrict an employee after separation is one such area.
While many states favor an employer’s right to reasonably restrict a former employee’s actions after termination (e.g., non-competes, non-solicits), Oklahoma does not. Oklahoma favors the right of individuals to work in the profession of their choice over the rights of an employer. In fact, in Oklahoma, most non-competition agreements are simply void. In other words, you cannot forbid someone from competing with his former employer unless a specific statutory exception applies; generally speaking involving the sale of goodwill or as to partners upon, or in anticipation of, dissolution of a partnership.
In 2001, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a specific law designed to strike a balance between the rights of the individual to work and the concerns of businesses. That law reads: Continue reading