grant its decree to enforce these covenants.' (at page 831 of 50 F.2d)
'Without guaranteeing to the defendants one day's regular work, without the obligation of the appellant to employ them or pay them anything, upon a seductive promise of the disclosure of information upon which they may hope to build a profitable line of sales, the appellees are induced to sign a paper which, while it has the general appearance of a contract, but keeps the promise to the ear while it breaks it to the hope. Such a contract, wanting in mutuality, presenting no equitable considerations, a court of equity will not enforce.' (at page 832 of 50 F.2d) The foregoing views are persuasive and convincing.
The same doctrine has been adopted and applied in a number of States. Thus, in Love v. Miami Laundry Co., 118 Fla. 137, 141, 160 So. 32, 34, the court in reaching this conclusion made the following statement: 'It is not necessary that we hold the contract to be invalid * * * but it is sufficient to say that equity should withhold injunctive relief which is sought for the purpose of coercing specific performance of such contract.'
The following cases hold to the same effect: Victor Chemical Works v. Iliff, 299 Ill. 532, 550, 132 N.E. 806; May v. Lee, Tex. Civ. App., 28 S.W.2d 202, 204; Schneller v. Hayes, 176 Wash. 115, 28 P.2d 273.
In Erikson v. Hawley, 56 App.D.C. 268, 12 F.2d 491, to which reference has already been made, and which appears to be the only reported case in the District of Columbia involving a negative covenant in an employment contract, the agreement contained a stipulation that the plaintiff would employ the defendant for a period of five years.
The distinction between equitable and legal rights, and between equitable and legal remedies, still exists in the Federal courts in full force. While the new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C.A. following section 723c, have done away with the separation between actions at law and suits in equity, and have substituted one form of action, known as 'civil action', this merger does not reach beyond an abolition of procedural distinctions between law and equity. The differentiation between equitable and legal doctrines, and between equitable and legal remedies, is part of the warp and woof of Angle-American jurisprudence and is deeply imbedded in our system of law. It has not been abrogated or affected by the commendable simplification of procedure. Consequently, in determining whether an injunction should be granted, the basic doctrines of equity come into play. Sun Oil Co. v. Burford, 5 Cir., 130 F.2d 10; Coca Cola Co. v. Dixi-Cola Laboratories, 4 Cir., 155 F.2d 59, 63; Bellavance v. Plastic Craft Novelty Co., D.C., 30 F.Supp. 37, 39; Williams v. Collier, D.C., 32 F.Supp. 321; New England Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. Barnett, D.C., 39 F.Supp. 761; Monks v. Hurley, D.C., 45 F.Supp. 724; Fitzpatrick v. Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada, D.C., 1 F.R.D. 713.
Compliance with a covenant to refrain from competition with a former employer may lead to a serious hindrance and a substantial handicap in one's effort to earn a legitimate livelihood. It may deprive the employee of the right to pursue a calling for which he is best fitted or of the opportunity to work in his chosen field of endeavor. An employer, who seeks to subject a former employee to such severe and drastic restrictions on his activities, should at least extend to him some assurance of financial security for a reasonable time. Otherwise, the employee may find himself completely at his employer's mercy. Such a result would seem inequitable and at times even contrary to the dictates of humanity. One who seeks to restrict another's freedom of action, should be willing to surrender his own independence to a corresponding degree. If the employer prefers to leave himself free to terminate the employment at will in his own discretion, he should not be accorded the drastic and far reaching remedy by way of an injunction to enforce a stipulation that would exclude the former employee from an opportunity freely to engage in the same business. These considerations lead the court to the conclusion that unless the contract which binds one not to compete with his former employer, also obligates the employer to continue the employment for a specified term, the negative covenant should not be enforced by injunction.
Motion for a preliminary injunction denied.