California is the home of numerous large and well-known businesses, two of which are Amazon and Netflix. The presence of these companies fosters a good amount of competition when it comes to finding employees that are the best of the best. As some residents are likely aware, what makes this competition even more intense is discouragement of non-compete clauses in employment contracts made with employees in the state of California.
One man who formerly worked for Amazon and Netflix is suing one of the companies based on this very legislation that renders non-compete clauses generally unenforceable in California. The man's lawsuit against his former employer claims wrongful termination for violation of public policy.
The first company the man worked for was Netflix. However, he left that place of employment in June of 2013 after he witnessed what he felt was a "cold and hostile" environment. He then joined the team at Amazon.
Shortly after he began working for Amazon, his former employers at Netflix claimed he may have given some of Netflix's confidential information to Amazon. The lawyers working for Netflix sent the Amazon legal department a letter demanding access to the man's personal computer and email accounts in order to determine whether the information had been shared.
The man answered that, although Netflix information may still exist on his computer, he did not share it with Amazon. However, he still willingly gave up his computer and a thorough investigation determined that he was telling the truth. However, at the end of July, his employment with Amazon was terminated.
The man's lawsuit claims that his wrongful termination violated public policy embodied in the portions of the California Business Professional Codes that discourage non-competes. Amazon claims that he was fired because they were uncomfortable with the fact that he was retaining information from employers for which he no longer worked.
This outcome of this case has yet to be determined, but the man obviously feels that there was an unlawful reason for termination. Whenever an employees in California loses their jobs and they feel that the reasoning may have been illegal, it doesn't hurt to research their options to determine whether they may have a cause of action under employment law for wrongful discharge.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter, "Was This The Real Reason Why Amazon Fired A Former Netflix Licensing Guru?," Eriq Gardner, May 30, 2014