Executives in Texas and around the country who have access to confidential information are sometimes sued by their employers when they switch jobs or leave to start their own companies. A former Apple designer recently found himself in this situation. The man, who once worked on the Apple iPhone and iPad, is accused by the company of starting a new business and poaching key workers while he was still employed by the technology giant. Apple also claims that the man leveraged the technology he worked on to get his new venture off the ground.
The breach of contract lawsuit, which was filed in Santa Clara County, alleges that the man’s behavior jeopardized hundreds of jobs and investments worth millions of dollars. Apple says that the man concealed his activities by avoiding written communications and making contact with potential employees through third parties.
The man challenged the lawsuit on Nov. 6 by filing a notice of demurrer. He claims that the anti-competitive clauses in his Apple employment contract are unenforceable because they contradict California’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act. He also claims that Apple is intimidating individuals he wishes to hire by monitoring their telephone calls and email correspondence. The man started his new company with two former Apple employees who are not named in the lawsuit. He resigned his position at Apple in November. The two sides are scheduled to appear in court in January 2020.
Lawsuits like this one are often resolved through settlement negotiations because the facts can be very difficult for juries to follow. Attorneys with experience in contract disputes may seek to avoid protracted litigation by drafting employment agreements that meet requirements laid down by state and federal laws and ensuring that both employers and employees are aware of their responsibilities and the consequences of not meeting them.