The typical scenario we see is where the employee signs a noncompete agreement with her employer and everything is great for a few years. Then, the relationship turns sour and the employee leaves for greener pastures and goes to work for a competitor of her previous employer. The previous employer sends a letter threatening to sue if the employee continues to work in violation of the agreement and, when the employee refuses to quit her new job, a lawsuit is filed to enforce the noncompete agreement. The employee is left to defend herself in the lawsuit.
Lauren and I have spent a great deal of time on this blog discussing what defenses are available to those very employees when sued by a former employer. Today, I want to talk about the employee taking the fight to the previous employer.
If the previous employer’s actions result in the new employer getting cold feet and either firing the employee or retracting an offer of employment for the new employee, then Virginia law provides two potential remedies or causes of action. The first is a claim for “intentional interference with existing contracts not terminable at will.” The second is a claim for “intentional interference with prospective business or economic advantage.” The elements for these claims are straightforward and are often present with a “heavy-handed” employer.
Where applicable, both of these remedies available under Virginia law will allow the employee to take the offensive when their business and livelihood have been wrongfully limited by their previous employer.