This is the fourth article in a continuing series, “The Restricting Covenant.” It discusses the concept of protectable “playbooks” in restrictive covenant cases and the individuals that use them to compete.
Let’s Play Ball, but with Restrictions
This year’s NFL Super Bowl LI ended in spectacular fashion when the New England Patriots made an historic comeback to win in overtime against the Atlanta Falcons. After the game, there was much discussion about the Patriots’ unique “playbook,” their coach, and his game strategy for winning the Super Bowl for the fifth time in nine appearances. This discussion led me to the question of whether a sports organization can restrict a coach from leaving one team and coaching another competing team. Can it restrict a departing coach from recruiting athletes for a new team? Can it demand the return of all “playbooks” or restrict the coach from using other records that he or she developed while coaching?
Continue reading “Part IV of “The Restricting Covenant” Series: Coaches and Colleges”
This is the third article in a continuing series, “The Restricting Covenant.” In restrictive covenant cases, a company’s trade secrets are sometimes referred to as its “secret sauce” or “secret recipe.” The “secret formula” of Coca-Cola soda is an analogy used to help explain the uniqueness of a company’s protectable interest and the need to prevent unauthorized disclosure, misappropriation or unlawful competition. This talk about secret sauces and recipes not only made me hungry, but it also relates to the subject of this article – restrictive covenants, trade secrets and the food and restaurant industry.
Continue reading “Part III of “The Restricting Covenant” Series: Recipes and Restaurants”
This is the second article in a continuing series, “The Restricting Covenant.” In this article, I discuss a topic that is near and dear to me – my hair and my long-time relationship with my barber. I have used the same barber to cut my hair since high school, even after moving many miles away. I sit in his chair, he cuts my hair with expert precision, and I am a satisfied customer. This got me to think about one of the most basic reasons why employers want to impose non-compete and non-solicitation obligations on their employees – the value and strength of a long-term customer relationship. Courts have long recognized that protecting customer relationships is a legitimate protectable business interest that can support the enforcement of a restrictive covenant if it satisfies standards of “reasonableness.” So if my barber was to leave his current location, could his employer enforce a post-employment covenant that would prohibit him from cutting my hair? Yikes!
Continue reading “Part II of “The Restricting Covenant” Series: Barbers and Beauty Shops”
Restrictive covenants are private agreements that restrict an individual’s business activities within a specific geographic area for a period of time, in return for wages, access to information, or some other type of tangible benefit. Like the spots of a leopard, they come in all shapes and sizes. Their enforceability varies from state to state, from occupation to occupation, and from industry to industry. Many states have quirky or arcane rules or regulations tailored to specific occupations. Some industries have specific rules and practices that dictate the parties’ course of dealing and determine the “reasonableness” of the restrictions. Some employers prefer non-competes, while others prefer non-solicitations or non-disclosures, or some combination of each. In any event, before agreeing to be restricted, or before asking someone to be restricted, this legal landscape should be explored and understood because litigation in this area of the law can be financially and emotionally draining. This article discusses restrictive covenants and psychologists and psychiatrists.
Continue reading “Part I of “The Restricting Covenant” Series: Psychologists and Psychiatrists”
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a precedential decision, Karlo, et al. v. Pittsburgh Glass Works, LLC, that likely will make it easier for subgroups of older workers to bring lawsuits under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), on a “disparate impact” theory of liability. It also creates a split with the Second, Sixth and Eighth circuits, paving the way for greater uncertainty for national employers.
The Karlo Decision – Comparison of Subgroups Permitted For Disparate Impact Analysis
The defendant Pittsburgh Glass Works, LLC instituted reductions in force that resulted in the termination of approximately 100 employees. The plaintiffs, a group of workers all over the age of 50, brought a putative ADEA collective action, asserting, among other things, disparate impact claims. To establish a prima facie case for disparate impact under the ADEA, a plaintiff must (1) identify a specific, facially neutral policy, and (2) proffer statistical evidence that the policy caused a significant age-based disparity. The plaintiffs alleged that they had identified a policy that disproportionately impacted a subgroup of employees older than 50. However, because the policy favored younger members of the protected class (i.e., employees older than 40 but younger than 50), adding them into the comparison group did not show any statistical evidence of disparity. The district court initially certified a collective action, but subsequently granted a motion to decertify and then granted summary judgment to the employer.
Continue reading “Third Circuit Makes it Easier to Prove ADEA Disparate Impact Claims By Use of Subgroups of Older Workers”
Larry Del Rossi published an article for Today’s General Counsel titled, “Recent Scrutiny of Non-Competes.” Larry provides an overview of non-compete agreements (also known as restrictive covenants) and discusses a recent uptick in government activity that may regulate or challenge private businesses’ use and enforcement of non-competes.
Larry says “one major challenge for national companies is that enforcement of non-competes varies from state to state, so that there is no uniform standard.” In May 2016 the White House issued “Non-Compete Agreements: Analysis of the Usage, Potential Issues, and State Responses,” a document intended to identify areas where implementation and enforcement of non-competes may present issues, put forward a set of best practices, and serve as a call to action for state reform.
Continue reading “Recent Scrutiny of Non-Competes”