The dispute that I chose to write about was a dispute that occurred at my previous place of employment. This dispute was between an employee and the company. This employee was employed at a call center as a Corporate Webmaster. The call center team that he worked for started the process of a suit against him. The dispute was that the company believed that the former employee had violated a non-compete contract that the employee had signed when he became an Information Technology employee with the company.
By signing this agreement the employee agreed that the company’s clients and confidential information pertaining to them comprised a substantial part of the goodwill of its business; protection of goodwill is of particular importance in such business; and she had no proprietary interest in the company’s business.The employee also promised to devote full-time and best efforts to the company’s business and the related business interests of its corporate affiliates; acknowledged that, as part of his employment he would have access to and become acquainted with the company’s confidential information relating to the company’s present and future clients, companies from which the company obtained or would obtain designs for its clients, and the graphics for the company’s operating manuals.He acknowledged that he would be given access to the company’s confidential information only for the purpose of furthering its business interests and those of its affiliates.
He promised that he would not, during the term of the agreement or for 24 months thereafter, either disclose the company’s confidential information to any person, firm, or corporation or use such confidential information for the purpose of inducing or attempting to induce any of the company’s clients to become a client of his or any person, firm, or corporation with which he became affiliated in any capacity.However, he did not agree that he would not, during the term of the agreement or for 24 months thereafter, solicit or accept web design work from or perform related services for any of the of his own clients. This was an agreement that all information technology employees had to sign upon acquiring these positions and the employee was very familiar with this contract. On one Friday in March, the employee informed that the CEO of his company had eliminated his position as a Corporate Webmaster.The information came as kind of a shock because the employee had not expected this loss of income, and management had not previously expressed any dissatisfaction with his employment.
The employee tried to persuade management to keep him on as a sub contractor. Management advised the employee they would think about the decision over the weekend and let the employee know. Needless to say management did not choose to keep him as a subcontractor. So he posted his work on his portfolio, and proceeded to look for work. Six months later, he got a call from the Human Resources Director.The Director asked him to remove his work that he had done for them. The designer refused since the website was his own work, and it was used only to gain employment. A few days later the designer received a registered letter notifying him to remove the site from his portfolio.
The designer decided to look into the legalities of this matter and found out that since the state was a right-to-work state, and since it was his work, and he was using it to gain rightful employment, that the contract he signed was not legal in his state due to the right-to-work laws.So he notified the company, and suggested he would remove anything that was not common knowledge, but leave the look of the website on his portfolio. The attorneys working for the company once again contacted him, and told him that if he did not remove the site from his portfolio that they would be forced to allow the courts to decide the matter. The designer was confident that he was in the right, and had taken steps to make sure no proprietary information was on the site. The attorneys never again contacted him.
They had dropped the matter.All in all, the designer had the right to use his work to find employment, especially since the company eliminated his position. It was not the designers fault that he no longer had employment but it was the employers error in that they wanted the contract to stand and have control of the work that could get him a job to replace the position they eliminated. The attorneys had assumed they could scare and enforce the designer in removing the site. However, with a little knowledge the designer was able to distinguish the attacks, and go on with life.The dispute was resolved by self-arbitration and neither party agreed upon a settlement agreement, but allowed the matter to drop.
As far as the dispute resolution settlement is concerned, I believe that it was handled in the best manner it could have been. The attorneys could have taken it to the court system, and who knows who would have truly won, but because the designer was willing to challenge the company’s attorneys, and back himself with a little knowledge of the law, he won the battle.Even though there were relationships that were severed and ill feelings that will probably never be resolved, for the most part I believe that the settlement resolution was fair. I believe that the attorneys knew that they were violating the States laws, and the designer could not be forced to follow the contract. I believe that the attorneys did not think that the designer would pull their bluff, and go to court. Or was it that it would be too expensive for the company to fight this battle.
As far as the company is concerned, they are too big of firm to not know that they were violating this mans. I was this designer! In comparison to what actually happened, if the company had forced it into the court systems, they could have came out of it with a black eye, even if they won. It would tarnish their image, and show the public the how Goliath can beat David. If the designer had lost, most likely in the public’s eye, he would have looked like the abused kid in the papers. In this matter, if it did go that far, arbitration would have been the best for both parties to get true justice.