Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Former WAAY reporter Shea Allen and non-compete clauses

In case you missed the story, Shea Allen was a reporter for WAAY-TV in Huntsville, Alabama who claims to have been fired for a personal blog post that the station regarded as unprofessional. Excerpt:

2. My best sources are the ones who secretly have a crush on me.

3. I am better live when I have no script and no idea what I'm talking about.

So the next time some social media expert approaches you and raves about transparency and honesty, ask the so-called expert how much good that did Shea Allen. Or former BP CEO Tony Hayward.

Obviously there are a number of issues involved in the Shea Allen case, but one phrase in a Blaze story caught my eye.

Now, she has to figure out how to support her son — a feat that could prove difficult, as Allen claims the station told her that her non-compete clause will prevent her from working for competitors in the area. Despite their alleged refusal to allow her to seek nearby employment, she said they did pledge to provide a reference.

Allen is hoping to get out of her contract and stay in Huntsville, as she contends that her “options are limited” — at least at the moment.

The first thought that came to mind - would an employer truly try to enforce a non-compete clause even if the employer had fired the employee in question? Presumably, if Shea Allen is such a bad reporter that WAAY could no longer use her, wouldn't WAAY be ruining its competitors by letting such a substandard employee work for them?

Well, Allen's contract isn't public record, but an anonymous former insurance agent posted the relevant language of HIS non-compete clause:

"Upon the termination of this agreement for any reason, employee shall neither directly nor indirectly, either herself or in conjunction with any other person or company, initiate or engage in conducting title searches or preparing, issuing, or selling title insurance policies or providing any service which would in any way compete with [name of company] at any location, within a One Hundred mile radius from [town, state]..."

Whether this insurance agent's non-compete clause is enforceable is another matter, and whether Allen's non-compete clause is enforceable is another matter. But these episodes show that you need to read your employment contracts.
blog comments powered by Disqus