Mike Zafirovski, the former executive at Motorola named to be the next chief executive at Nortel, faces a legal hurdle in taking the job.

Nortel had picked Zafirovski to replace Bill Owens as its CEO effective Nov. 15.

However, Motorola, Zafirovski’s former employer, filed suit against him on Tuesday saying he had breached non-compete agreements.

Zafirovski left Motorola in January when he did not get the CEO’s position, according to media reports.

Nortel (NYSE: NT)’s board announced Zafirovski’s hiring on Monday.

“Mike Zafirovski has the kind of proven, team-building leadership that has seen him create significant new value during his career in two of the world’s most important global corporations,” said Harry Pearce, chairman of the board, Nortel. “He’s the right leader to build on the important work of Bill Owens – and take Nortel to the next level.”

Zafirovski, 51, had served as president and chief operating officer at Motorola.

Nortel: www.Nortel.com