In Texas, absent a valid non-compete agreement, an at-will employee generally is free to compete with the former employer so long as the employee does not take or use the company’s confidential information or trade secrets. A recent case from the El Paso Court of Appeals helps define what constitutes preparing to compete versus actively competing. Russell Cawyer's
blog post—entitled “El Paso Court of Appeals Clarifies Fiduciary Duty At-Will Employees Owe to Employers
” and published on the Texas Employment Law Update—suggests that any employee considering leaving his or her present employer to start a competing business must take steps to avoid crossing the line from permissibly preparing to compete to breaching a fiduciary duty owed to the employer.