Last year we told you about the case of Fifield v. Premier Dealer Servs., Inc., 993 N.E.2d 938 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist.2013), in which the Illinois Appellate Court for the First District held that, absent other adequate consideration, an at-will employee’s employment had to last for at least two years for it to be adequate consideration to support post-employment restrictive covenants.
But just when it appeared things were getting more clear as to the period of employment needed to support post-employment restrictive covenants, a Federal Court sitting in the Northern District of Illinois refused to follow what it saw as a mechanical approach enunciated in Fifield. See Montel Aetnastate, Inc. v. Miessen, 988 F.Supp. 2d 694 (N.D. Ill. 2014). Declining to follow a two year rule of continuous employment enunciated in Fifield, the Montel court elected to employ a fact-specific approach.
In the latest chapter of the subject, the Appellate Court sitting in the Third District followed the rule enunciated in Fifield that two or more years of continuous employment was necessary to constitute adequate consideration. And, in that case, the court held that the restrictive covenant in question was unenforceable as the employee had tendered her resignation 15 months after the start of her at-will employment. Prairie Rheumatology Associates, S.C. v. Maria Francis, D.O., 2014 IL App (3d) 140338 (December 11, 2014).
Call us today to verify whether your non-compete agreements are enforceable in light of the shifting sands of Illinois law.