I am not a psychologist, despite my best attempts at trying to understand what motivates people.
I am however, an observer of human behavior and have seen the following trends in non-compete / employment contract litigation.
Litigation occurs when an employee breaks his or her contract, takes secret information and tries to use it.
Litigation is usually motivated by the following legal and business reasons in situation 1: actual breach; safe guard of secret or confidential information is important; actual loss of business; want other employees to realize it is a binding and legitimate contract.
In the last 4 years – I have had very few of these cases before a Judge because quite frankly, when these employees come to my door, I explain the risks of litigation, etc. It is usually not in their best interest to pay me to defend them when I think a judge will rule against us anyway.
I call situation 1 – “Justified Litigation.”
Occurs when an important employee leaves, and a business owner with a huge flaming ego sues because he/ she doesn’t know how else to handle the loss. No really. I see this all the time.
Huge flaming ego thinks he /she can scare ex-employee into submission, or at least into paying them some money. Often times our clients have done nothing wrong and or their contract is utterly over broad and unenforceable.. so we let the litigation play out and usually it ends with the business owner gets sick of paying legal fees and the case being dropped.
This trend, I like to call the Big Flaming Ego. Sadly, we see it alot.
Now I told you I am no psychologist, but I do think this trend is certainly motivated by something other than the best interest of the business, and I will continue to advise clients accordingly.
Sadly, there is little ex-employees can do but handle the litigation properly and with integrity.
For fun, here is my visual of the Big Flaming Ego. We are happy to help advise you if you find yourself in this situation. So when you call our office to have your agreement reviewed and the situation analyzed, I will ask questions about the owner / person on the other side. Their response to your exit matters.