no non-compete

I recently ended my 2 1/2 year employment with a title abstracting company. I have been working with a real estate settlement company part-time for the past 5 months as well. I have never signed and have never been asked to sign a non-compete form. Additionally, I told them that I was taking on the part-time job, and they did not ask the nature of the employment, and I did not offer. The changed my employment status from in-office to at-home because I told them I no longer wanted to be employed there, but they wanted to keep my services (I'm very good at what I do). I agreed to becoming a full-time employee working outside of their office. Since then, things have spiraled down. I was not receiving orders in a timely fashion, and when I complained, nothing was done to correct this. There were an unnecessary number of e-mails being sent to me that I had to reply to because they were work related. These things contributed to a loss or productivity. However, it was only in the last week that the owner of the company said anything about this supposed problem. I ended up quitting, giving them a month's notice. They came back a few days later and gave me less than a week's notice that my employment would be ending that week. I requested on several occasions that they reimburse me for my vacation pay, and was ignored. Then, a week after they let me know they were letting me go, they served me with an injunction stating (without any basis, I might add) that I was causing them irreparable damage by taking their clients and selling their trade secrets. For the record, I have done no such thing, am now employed in a different aspect of real estate, and have never indicated to anyone that I would do this, even if I had the means, which I do not. I repeat I never signed nor was asked to agree to a non-competition clause. Do you feel they have a case against me?

2 answers  |  asked Dec 12, 2007 11:30 AM [EST]  |  applies to Pennsylvania

Unlock Non-Compete Agreements: Keys to Escape

Answers (2)

Harold Goldner
Sounds like a stick up

I echo Chris Ezold's 'disclaimer,' which we are required to give because just like a doctor who hasn't sat down to examine a patient can't give a diagnosis, we can't give you legal advice upon which you should rely unless we actually meet with you.

It sounds, however, like a 'shakedown.' Sometimes employers will threaten with cease and desist letters believing that former employees will be intimidated into compliance.

Since it's not even clear what your former employer is after --- and since they may have violated state laws in failure to pay compensation when due, you should get yourself to a lawyer --- fast, so that a response can be sent to your former employer which shows that you aren't about to be intimidated.


posted by Harold Goldner  |  Dec 13, 2007 10:21 AM [EST]
Christopher Ezold
If you haven't signed a noncompete and haven't taken trade secrets, you can work where you like.

Before I respond to your inquiry, I must state that we have not spoken, I have not reviewed the relevant documents and facts, and I do not represent you. Therefore, my discussion below is not a legal opinion, but is informational only. Finally, my discussion applies only to issues to which Pennsylvania or Federal law apply, unless otherwise specified.

That being said, if you haven't signed a noncompete and haven't taken trade secrets, you can work where you like. It is very difficult to create a noncompetition obligation out of a claim that you stole trade secrets; from your situation it appears likely that the only trade secrets that exist are customer lists. Customer lists are on the very periphery of trade secrets law; it is difficult to claim that they are trade secrets.

The above response might change depending on the trade secrets claimed and the specific facts of your employment and whether or not you have a claim for wages (vacation pay, etc.).

If you would like to discuss this matter further, please feel free to contact me at the below address(es) or number.

/Christopher E. Ezold/
Nancy O'Mara Ezold, P.C.
One Belmont Avenue,
Suite 501
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
(610) 660-5585

posted by Christopher Ezold  |  Dec 12, 2007 12:02 PM [EST]

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