Massage Parlor Sues Former Employee for Violating Non-Compete
Granted, news stories will often omit critical facts needed to assess accurately how a court will likely decide a case. But sometimes it is still a worthwhile endeavor to assume every salacious fact as alleged by the plaintiff to be true, if only because it sharpens the question to see if they might be entitled to prevail under law.
I find this exercise particularly useful in the non-compete context - because each case almost inherently fact-specific.
Consider this: the Louisiana-based H2O spa sues one of its former employees, a massage therapist, who started her own competing business while still working for the plaintiff. In its suit papers, H2O alleges that the defendant wrongly solicited its existing clients and misappropriated H2O's confidential client information.
Under New York law, the defendant would stand a strong chance of success in having this case dismissed.
1) New York's courts are highly unlikely to hold that a massage therapist is a "key employee," and therefore, would be loathe to enforce this non-compete, effectively precluding this defendant from earning a living in her chosen profession; and,
2) Unless the plaintiff could demonstrate that its client lists were generated in a manner that was not readily obtainable from public information, or that the defendant affirmatively stole plaintiff's client list, chances are that this claim will fall as well.