Sometimes, there is NOTHING you can do to avoid being sued. Seriously.
You can play by the rules. Not breach your non-compete agreement, and your old employer will still run to the Court house and allege you did all of these awful, illegal things. And then, just when you think it can’t get worse, this employer will tell the judge he is entitled to MILLIONS of dollars in damages. Really? Millions.
Then there are cases where I can help someone avoid litigation by reviewing their agreements and advising against certain action or advising against certain action. Our goal is to make everyone happy, and not end up on the court house steps.
There is a third type of employer who may try to sue you, but realize it is not worth their time and money in the end to go the distance. Settlement is possible, or often suit is dropped when the evidence does not stack up in their favor.
I like to categorize these three scenarios using fun, descriptive and hyperbolic terms.
Situation 1 (Note: Not THE Situation. I am referring to the term commonly used prior to 2010) –
HUGE FLAMING EGO. The guy who sues no matter what he can prove, and regardless of whether he can prove actual economic damages at the end of the day. Sometimes these egos are flamed by attorneys and sometimes they are actually calmed by attorneys. It all depends!
Situation 2 – OUNCE OF CAUTION. These situations arise when employees do their best to be reasonable, and not breach, and employers appreciate that effort and all ends well, without a lawsuit being filed. This of course is the goal for all employment endings.
Situation 3 – GOOD BUSINESSMAN. I would consider the employer in situation 3 to be a good business man driven by what is best for his or her business, and not ego. What? Yes, when a decision is based on potential outcome rather than revenge, sometimes good decisions are made.
So. You are planning on starting a new business in Virginia this Winter? Maybe your employer is about to lose a huge government contract and you want to stay on board with the project. Maybe you just want to work somewhere where your work is appreciated.
If you have an employment agreement, and are thinking of making a change but staying in the same industry, have that agreement reviewed. We can discuss what you have done, should do, and whether or not we will end up in situation 1, 2 or 3.
Word to the wise. Huge Flaming egos end up in Court. Let us know if we can help you this year and hopefully, help you avoid litigation.