Judge Salinger, sitting in the Suffolk Superior Court, issued a decision on March 30, 2017 on a non-compete case that is favorable to employees who are looking to get out from under a non-compete agreement. The case is ABM Industry Groups, LLC v. Palmarozzo, et. al., Lawyers Weekly No. 12-035-17. In this particular case, Mr. Palmarozzo, a high level manager for a very large janitorial and building maintenance company joined another albeit smaller janitorial company notwithstanding the fact that he signed a non-compete agreement.
The plaintiff/company argued that Mr. Palmarozzo had been privy to all sorts of information, including the names of the company’s clients, their business needs, marketing plans, business strategies, pricing structures and fees. Judge Salinger’s decision made it clear that an employee is free to carry away his own memory, even if the employee’s memory relates to the above reference topics. This type of ‘remembered information’ is not confidential because it is different than a compilation of information that may be found on a server or in a database or in a file cabinet. Equally important, the company’s pricing cannot be considered confidential because this information is obviously shared with prospective customers. This case echoes the sentiment that non-compete agreements are not enforceable if the purpose is to discourage ordinary competition.
There are many situations in which an employee may be sprung from a non-compete agreement, but there are also plenty of situations in which a judge will order the employee to honor his or her contractual obligations. As such, employees that are eager to accept an employment opportunity that requires the execution of a non-compete agreement should have the foresight to recognize that very few employment relationships last an entire career, so consulting with an attorney in advance is always a prudent move.
If you have any questions or concerns about a non-compete agreement, call John Davis, the managing partner at Davis & Davis, P.C.