Judge refuses to snip non-compete

A Massachusetts court in Zona Corp. v McKinnon upheld a 1 year non-compete signed by a hair dresser who had been fired from the salon. The fact that the hair dresser employment came to end involuntarily did not affect the enforcement of the clause. At stake was the usual scenario that investigators are called upon to prove: the former employee was using confidential information to make contact with former customers. Some memorable situations at this firm have involved men who are violating a non-competition agreements and can't help bragging at the hotel bar to the lovely and attentive brunette--who is, of course, a private investigator.

Bimbo Bakeries crumbles opposition in trade secret case

A recent PA case, Bimbo Bakeries v. Botticella, the Third Circuit held that if the facts show a “substantial threat” of misappropriation, an employer may be able to obstruct mobility of former employees -- even in the absence of a non-compete agreement.

Botticella was a senior executive at Bimbo Bakeries, the maker of Thomas’, Entenmann’s, and Boboli brands. He was se to move to a competitor, Hostess. While he had signed an agreement to never disclose Bimbo’s proprietary information, he had not signed a non-compete. Nonetheless, despite the public interest in employees' freedom to work where they please, the court held that Bimbo could stop Botticella from working in light of evidence that he was copying files from his laptop to external devices prior to leaving Bimbo (he claimed he did so only to practice his computer skills; the court squashed this cupcake argument).

Thus if a solid forensic and background investigation shows a “substantial threat” of misappropriation, the employee is left with crumbs.