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Can You Be Sued for Quitting?

Cliff posted more than 6 years ago | from the you-can-be-sued-for-anything dept.

The Courts 1057

An anonymous reader asks: "I work at a large hosting company in Texas, and recently decided to go work for a smaller competitor. I had a great relationship with my employer and wanted to leave on good terms, and I hadn't signed any non-compete or employment agreements . I felt my old company had just gotten too large and I didn't like working there anymore, so I gave them two weeks notice in writing. They were really upset when I insisted on leaving and one week into my last two weeks the V.P. of Sales told me the company was suing me for leaving, and they were also suing my new employer for hiring me. I was shocked, and they then escorted me out of the building. Has anybody ever heard of this happening? Do they have any legal basis for suing me?" It shouldn't have to be said that seeking professional legal representation, in such a situation, is the first thing one should do.

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ianal (1)

Phil246 (803464) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856754)

But, gut feeling tells me that no they dont have a basis for suing you if you followed all the rules about giving them sufficient notice and all that.

Re:ianal (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17856804)

There are no rules about giving them sufficient notice, that is bunk. I dont give notice when I quit because if I was fired my employer wouldnt give me two weeks notice that I was out of a job in two weeks. Its really not conducive to good office policy to give two weeks notice because it almost always leads to you being where youre not wanted for those two weeks. They dont trust you during those two weeks and youre just asking for a hard time. Just stop showing up, that's how to quit. Ive done this several times and still get good references.

Re:ianal (5, Insightful)

knewter (62953) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856818)

At my old company I gave them two weeks notice and then served as a contract employee for around four months just to help them close out the projects I was working on. I think anything else would have been kind of ass-ish of me. My goal is to avoid losing money for my employer, though it's not the primary goal. If they haven't been asses to you, don't be an ass to them. It's almost like it's as simple as living life.

Re:ianal (5, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856886)

...Just stop showing up, that's how to quit. Ive done this several times...
-- Anonymous Coward
Where's my "funny" mod points when I need them?

Re:ianal (5, Insightful)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857728)

"Where's my "funny" mod points when I need them?"

Better still, where's the "ironic" mod points? Aside from that, this is terrible advice. Why burn your bridges? Put in your two weeks notice, then during that time do your best for your current employer. That way if your current job does not work out, or you find yourself desiring to return, it would make it much easier for you, as your employer will remember what you did for them in your final days.

Re:ianal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17857118)

I dont give notice when I quit because if I was fired my employer wouldnt give me two weeks notice that I was out of a job in two weeks.

Many employers will give at least two weeks severance pay if you are laid off without cause.

Re:ianal (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857590)

I dont give notice when I quit because if I was fired my employer wouldnt give me two weeks notice that I was out of a job in two weeks.

I had that discussion with one of my managers about people giving notice, and I asked him how much notice I would get from him if I were to be fired or laid off. He went into a long explanation of how telling an employee he's getting canned causes all sorts of security problems and low productivity etc etc, to which I pointed out I would give him as much notice as I thought he would give me.

I don't think he liked that, but he understood where I was coming from. Companies expect generosity and loyalty from their employees, but have absolutely no intention of being generous or loyal to their employees. Generous and loyal employees increase company proffit. Generous and loyal companies lower company proffit. That can only lead to this sort of behavior.

I hope this fellow gets a nice settlement from a countersuit, he deserves it.

Re:ianal (4, Insightful)

osgeek (239988) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857598)

If you say so, man.

I always try to leave a place on a somewhat positive note, not bitching and moaning the whole way out. I don't tend to join places where they're completely incompetent or assholes, so I show the colleagues I leave behind the respect that I think they deserve.

What goes around comes around, too. I've never had someone just walk out on me and leave their projects hanging. People who work for me and feel they need to go work elsewhere almost universally have done so without just ditching me. They usually give me a couple weeks to a month.

Treat people with respect and you tend to get respect. Treat people like shit and they tend to treat you like shit.

Re:ianal (2, Funny)

aborchers (471342) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857688)

AC's Work History:

Wendy's
Taco Bell
KFC
McDonalds

Re:ianal (4, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857746)

In Ontario, where I live, the law is that your employer must give you two weeks notice, or two weeks pay in lieu of notice when firing you without cause. Case law says they have to give you more than 2 weeks if you have been working for some certain amount of time. If there is cause for dismissal, they don't have to give you notice. On the other hand, when you leave your employer, you don't have to give them any notice. They also in return, don't have to give you a good reference. I'm not sure how contracts and all that other stuff fits in, but unless they have it in writing that you can't leave without X amount of notice, then you can leave whenever you please.

Re:ianal (3, Funny)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857194)

IANAL, so get one.

Employment laws can vary state to state.

This has to be the worst Ask Slashdot ever.

JUDGE: How does the defendant plead?
AC: A couple of guys from Slashdot said they don't have a case, so why do I have to plead?
JUDGE stares in disbelief while shaking his head and mumbling "It's going to be one of those days"

Re:ianal (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857268)

"Frist Ojbection, yer honner!"

I have heard of attempts to sue... (5, Interesting)

Panaqqa (927615) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856766)

But without a non-competition agreement I can't see that theirs would go very far. Of course anyone can sue anybody at anytime for anything. Actually winning a judgement is another matter.

Perhaps your former employer might be better advised to spend the money and effort having a consultant come in and find out why they are losing people - a professional job satisfaction survey, say. If you have found that the work environment has changed enough to motivate you to seek employment elsewhere, then others are likely thinking the same thing. Maybe their threat of a lawsuit is a form of coercive message to other workers that they had better stay... or else!!

anyone can sue anybody at anytime for anything (4, Interesting)

da5idnetlimit.com (410908) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856998)

Now that's the idea.

I propose the poor guy sues his company. before it has time to sue him.

IANAL, but I'm sure a pro can find a few nicely worded offenses commited by this company (Breaking the freedom of choosing its employer, being considered as a serf belonging to the company while slavery has been abolished for some time, moral prejudice for unneeded sufferings, cruelty (in group), libel (?), being an asshole (NOT A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT, even if 2 centuries of practice make most american think it is), intimidation, unheeded meddling in someone's affairs, etc ...

Anyhow, if they want to play dumb, he should just play harder...
 

Re:anyone can sue anybody at anytime for anything (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857686)

being an asshole (NOT A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT,

If it's not barred by law, then it's still an inherent right.

Re:I have heard of attempts to sue... (2, Insightful)

catwh0re (540371) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857002)

I think you're right about the coercive lawsuit...

The company management is clearly poor. The lawsuit is a good indication of this.
Bad management is probably why the work environment is crap. Which is why people are choosing to leave.
Chicken and egg.

Re:I have heard of attempts to sue... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17857012)

Of course if they lose, it will probably spur action in the opposite direction.

Re:I have heard of attempts to sue... (3, Funny)

tclark (140640) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857054)

Perhaps your former employer might be better advised to spend the money and effort having a consultant come in
You mean, perhaps they should bring in the Bobs [wikipedia.org] ?

IANAL and all... (4, Informative)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857068)

But without a non-competition agreement I can't see that theirs would go very far. Of course anyone can sue anybody at anytime for anything. Actually winning a judgement is another matter.
AFAIK that is correct. They can cause you some nuisance but probably not win. If this actually goes to court, ask your real lawyer about the chances to recover your legal fees because plaintiff brought a frivolous lawsuit ;-)

Shit List (5, Funny)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857090)

You need to keep a shit list. I've been with one company for about 12 years now. For the last 5, I've kept an offline diary about my work there. Every time I think I was wronged, I write about it while it's still fresh in my mind. Every time I do something really good, I write in another diary.

For your own sake, keep these private. Fireproof box with a combo or a key you *always* keep with you is okay.

When something goes bad for you, decide how you want to treat it. Do you want to pull out something from the "good book" or from the "bad book".

If you get threatened, you can easily turn the log over to a lawyer for a quick browse. Something as simple of 15~20 minutes of overtime (why does the boss call at 4:58PM for a chat about an e-mail I sent at 9AM) every week over a few years can leave a company with massive fines. Every racist/sexist joke you hear is handy too.

Even if nothing ever goes wrong, maybe one of those jackasses will run for office one day. Then, you can call them up and ask them if they remember the time they did Stacy while she was passed out after the office party. Maybe get a nice retirement bonus out of it. Or you could just end up dead like one former President's old buddies. Hmm...

Re:Shit List (5, Funny)

LizardKing (5245) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857178)

Monday 29th:

Bob from accounts looked at me funny. I'm sure he knows my secret.

Tuesday 30th:

I hear the directors laughing in the boardroom. They know too.

Wednesday 31st:

Arrived at work to find a crow standing on the window ledge outside my office window. I think this is a sign.

Thursday 1st:

The assault rifle, handgun and stun grenades are safely stored behind that old Vax in the machine room.

Friday 2nd:

Goodbye cruel world.

Re:Shit List (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857184)

Ha, if that is not the definition of cynical, I don't know what is. Have you ever felt of working at a nicer place?

Re:Shit List (5, Insightful)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857358)

The place I work at is great. My boss is the kind of guy you can go and have a beer with every now and again. My coworkers are the nicest people in the world. If someone from another company started talking about my department or boss or coworkers, there would probably be physical violence to right the wrongs.

We are a tight group and we get things done.

However, if you make a wrong step, it can all turn sour in a minute.

Don't ever mistake the place you work for anything other than a symbiotic relationship. Don't ever mistake the people in the next cubicle for your friends. If you start something that devalues their stock or makes them work harder to pick up your slack, then you'll be out in the cold.

It pays to keep ammunition for those times. It might just literally save your life.

And, if it's never needed, then it's no blood no foul.

Re:Shit List (5, Insightful)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857664)

I don't think I've ever read such shocking cynicism before.

There are things called friendship and trust.

If you are secretly storing up a list of 'ammunition' against people, then you are betraying that friendship and trust. (The only time I would consider it OK is if there is no trust to begin with.)

And, if it's never needed, then it's no blood no foul.
It is wrong to think that such a secret list will have no deleterious effect unless you actually decide to deploy it.

This is the same myth that 'private life' and 'public life' are separable entities. They are not. What you do secretly affects the way you think, which affects they way you act, which affects how you treat others. It just isn't possible to do something in private without it subtly (or not so subtly) affecting the public aspects of your life.

Re:Shit List (1)

mustafap (452510) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857592)

>For your own sake, keep these private.

Well, duh!

Look, you need to relax a bit and find an employer where you can command some respect, and perhaps even show some. You only have one, short life. Don't waste it being a petty, screwed up individual.

p.s. That's not you sitting across the office is it? With the boom mike and binoculars?

Re:I have heard of attempts to sue... (3, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857222)

Of course anyone can sue anybody at anytime for anything. Actually winning a judgement is another matter.

But that's usuaully used as a scare tactic. At least with what we've seen in public news. Its a scare tactic to keep people from doing something like making a parody of strawberry shortcake (Eh hem).

Suing someone for their livelyhood when you have no legal ground to do so is just plain stupid. Anyone who needed to work and was being tried to prevent that would surely challenge the plaintiff. Who wouldn't challenge that? What was The Planet thinking? Actually, don't answer that.

I hope this makes people think twice before hosting with The Planet or one of their resellers or one of their resellers or one of their resellers or one of their resellers........

sig removed

Re:I have heard of attempts to sue... (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857684)

Whats strange is they immediately escorted him out. Meaning they weren't threatening to sue to keep him there, they were obviously serious.

Re:I have heard of attempts to sue... (5, Insightful)

meme lies (1050572) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857226)

Maybe their threat of a lawsuit is a form of coercive message to other workers that they had better stay... or else!!

If this actually happened the way OP described I would guess the VP of Sales (which in my experience isn't all that high of a position in management, and certainly not one to initiate a lawsuit on behalf of the company, but I could be wrong) was just being an ass. Threats of lawsuit are pretty common in this country, and most remain just that-- idle threats. Perhaps the VP of Sales heard the CEO say "I ought to sue him for leaving" in the heat of the moment and took it literally; that kind of thing happens all the time.

Except...

The "anonymous reader" was thoughtful enough to name his former employer in the link, in effect smearing the company's name on a website read by hundreds of thousands of people (many in their industry) daily. Assuming this wasn't made up to begin with, the identity of the "anonymous reader" should be easy for the company to discover. If they weren't going to sue before, this may make them angry enough to do so now-- and they might have a better case.

do not discuss law on slashdot (3, Insightful)

acidrain (35064) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857272)

This is an international forum, being used to discuss a state-specific legal issue. People from all over the world, and from all different states will discuss what the "law" is without realizing that they may not be discussing the same thing. Thankfully, this post had the decency to mention the jurisdiction, but what percentage of the people reading *and posting responses* are from Texas?!?

Next, this post would be 100x more interesting if we learned the outcome of the situation. So what if somebody's ex-employer was a dick and said some shit about suing? Like that won't happen again. If this individual was telling us about an actual outcome based on real law, then this might actually be worth reading about.

Finally, the "editor" should be fired *and* sued for posting this kind of clueless "get a frickin' lawyer when and if it happens" crap.

Re:I have heard of attempts to sue... (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857514)

Perhaps your former employer might be better advised to spend the money and effort having a consultant come in and find out why they are losing people
I'm not a professional consultant, but maybe it was when they started suing their own employees?

- RG>

Cheap skates (1)

simm1701 (835424) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856770)

Sounds like they were just trying to get out of paying you yoru last weeks pay....

Normally companies can tell you to stay at home during your notice period but still have to pay you (unless you mutually agree to terminate the contract early)

I certainly can't see how that would have grounds for a law suit but then IANAL...

Personally I'd counter sue for the weeks wages and if you really felt like it then also stress, loss of say 2 years wages if your new employer decides to back out, costs and legal fees.

Re:Cheap skates (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17856846)

Seeing as they fired him, is he not entitled for severance pay now?

Re:Cheap skates (2, Insightful)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857212)

If you are fired, you are not entitled to severence, and if you went to apply for unemployment, they can contest it. However, in this case, it appears he has a wrongful termination suit he could file. Getting fired after giving your 2 weeks notice, if you did nothing wrong, is illegal. That being said, a company can always find some reason to terminate the employment agreement, but you usually end up with severance at that point.

Re:Cheap skates (2, Insightful)

Shadow99_1 (86250) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857284)

There is also the possibility that he lives in an 'At Will' state, with a company that has a 'At Will' working agreement. In both cases without notice you can be terminated for anything or even nothing. This is supposed to be useful for an employee (so you can leave employment at any time without needing to give prior notice), but mostly is just a big axe over your head for whatever company you work for...

My state and employer are both that way, so I'm quite aware of how that works...

Now the problem if he is in such a situation... Is that he won't be able to counter sue for wrongful termination (it doesn't exist in states like that).

Re:Cheap skates (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857150)

Or just countersue for harrassment, which seems to be the only logical explaination for their actions.

too short? (0)

butterberg (1046750) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856772)

so I gave them two weeks notice in writing.
Two weeks is pretty short, IMHO. AFAIK, in Germany you have to let them know three months before leaving.

BTW: Wasn't there this case between Microsoft and Google, when some search engine specialist was hired by Google?

Re:too short? (1)

simm1701 (835424) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856780)

2 weeks is the norm for the US, much as its 30 days in the uk unless your contract says otherwise?

Re:too short? (5, Informative)

AudioEfex (637163) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856816)

Two weeks is pretty short, IMHO. AFAIK, in Germany you have to let them know three months before leaving. BTW: Wasn't there this case between Microsoft and Google, when some search engine specialist was hired by Google?

1. In the U.S., two-weeks is the customary length of notice for non-contract employees. A common phrase is, "They can't fault you, you gave them your two-weeks." Of course there are exceptions for people who are extremely unique in their position, but two-weeks is the customary time frame, and employers must pay you for those two full-weeks even if they choose to not let you stay after you give your notice.

2. I believe in the Google issue there was actually a contract saying one could not go work for a competitor, or start your own company in the same field (or some variation of such). Those are pretty common, but has nothing to do with two-weeks notice but what you do after you leave the company. These don't always hold up well - especially if the person didn't have any proprietary knowledge that will benefit the other company.

3. To the OP, all I can say is your company already screwed up by threatening a lawsuit. Unless there is some big info being left out, of course, they cannot sue you for quitting your job, UNLESS you signed a no-compete contract. The VP tells you this? There is some shady stuff right there - no one but HR should even discuss such things.

Sounds like you are getting out just in time. Again, if the situation is as described, I don't think there is anything to worry about - sounds like a couple of people who don't know what their legal rights are and aren't were trying to scare you. Now you just need to decide - do you just wash your hands of the place, or make sure that the jerks who tried to pull this crap on you are known for what they are.

I just have a feeling, though, that SOMETHING isn't being fully disclosed here.

AE

Re:too short? (1)

Perseid (660451) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856944)

I don't think employers are legally required to pay for the two weeks as such. If you say you are going to quit in two weeks that is not a valid legal reason for them to fire you. If they do you can sue for wrongful termination. If they really don't like you anymore it is reasonable to pay you what you would have made in those two weeks to, in a sense, bribe you into not coming back.

And as for the original post, IANAL, but you don't have to be to realize that this lawsuit is total nonsense. So much so that I'm not sure I believe you. But if you are for real, don't worry about it and sue back.

Re:too short? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17857188)

I don't think employers are legally required to pay for the two weeks as such. If you say you are going to quit in two weeks that is not a valid legal reason for them to fire you. If they do you can sue for wrongful termination.

If you're an at-will employee I don't think you'd win a wrongful termination case. However, if your new job falls through for some reason they'd be responsible for your unemployment benefits if they didn't pay you for those two weeks. For that reason alone it's probably in their best interests to pay you.

Re:too short? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17857162)

Customary? I thought "at will" employment was customary, certainly in SoCal. That means you can walk out or be fired on a whim.

In the UK a month's notice is normal; 3 months is an extended contract and you expect to be paid for that. Those crazy Germans!

I just have a feeling, though, that SOMETHING isn't being fully disclosed here.

Forget about it, it's just nerdish paranoia projected onto some poor Slashdot poster. It's odd because nerds of all people should know how to make smoke without fire.

Re:too short? (1, Redundant)

kfg (145172) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856862)

This isn't Germany and we do not have anything resembling a socialist work structure. Unless your employment contract states otherwise the two weeks notice itself is a mere courtesy, not a legal requirement. In fact, in many businesses you can expect them to have security escort you out of the building immediately upon giving notice; or fire you without any notice at all.

KFG

Re:too short? (2, Insightful)

Alphager (957739) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857040)

This isn't Germany and we do not have anything resembling a socialist work structure.
Last time I looked, i didn't live in a socialist country. It's a federal liberal (not in your political sense) democratic republic whose economic model is called "social market economy", which (as the american system) is considered one of the "middle"-systems. Germany (well, the BRD) has _nothing_ to do with socialism.

Communists and socialists in the US (1, Troll)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857104)

Some Americans have very broad definitions of socialist and communist. Ronald Reagan has been called a communist because the federal government under him continued to "send out armed men in peoples home to rob them of their possessions", which is their code-speak for tax collectors backed by the police.

Re:too short? (1)

Peter La Casse (3992) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857558)

we do not have anything resembling a socialist work structure

Ever hear of unions? Some definitely resemble socialist work structures.

Ever hear of a 40 hour work week?

Not everything that has ever been touched by socialism is bad.

Re:too short? (2, Informative)

DarkGreenNight (647707) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856898)

I guess he's in the USA. Diferent countries, diferent laws, even inside the EU. In Spain, for example, the notice needs not be sooner than 15 (working) days before. Anything more and your are being generous. For leaving in good terms I'd say one or two months. With that they should have plenty of time to start to search your replacement.

Re:too short? (4, Insightful)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856910)

As the CP says, two weeks is the norm in the US, and even that is only a matter of tradition and courtesy, not a matter of law. If you decide one day to quit your job, you can just say "I quit" and walk out and that's that.

Microsoft did sue Google, but they settled out of court, and Lee works for Google today.

Even if the guy being sued did sign a non-compete without realizing, they still can only sue to block him from working for a competitor. They can't sue him just for quitting. And depending on what Texas courts think of non-competes, they might still be on thin ice. Here in California, courts have generally held non-competes to unenforceable. I have a non-compete, like most other tech workers, and the major reason courts have generally held them unenforceable is that (especially in a narrow specialty like mine), a two-year non-compete clause would be tantamount to forcing me to leave my chosen career completely and work for a lot less money in some other industry.

Add to that the fact that the standard employment agreement states that you have an at-will relationship with your employer. They can terminate your employment at any time, for any reason, or for none. Likewise, you can quit at any time, for any reason, or for none. If an employee is going to be at-will (yes, you can still sue for wrongful termination in some circumstances, I know), companies can't expect to have it both ways. If they can do whatever they want with respect to their employees' employment, employees likewise should be able to do so.

I agree with that idea, both because I'm an employee, and because I have fairly libertarian principles regarding the free market for goods and services. My job skills, like my house, stocks, car, or any other assets, should be worth whatever the market will bear, to offer to any bidder, without restriction. If a company can keeps its employees happy (and that takes a lot more than salary; salary may not even be the top thing; I'd rather make a medium salary at a great place to work than a top-of-market salary at a bad place to work), they'll stay there and work. If it can't, they'll go elsewhere. Maybe to a competitor. That's fair. Employees should have the same relationship with a company that customers do: make them unhappy and you'll lose them.

Re:too short? (1)

WebCrapper (667046) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857034)

Ah... I don't believe that. I'm an american that has worked for a German Company and my _contract_ stated 2 weeks. Since almost all employees are contracted in Germany/Europe, I would think that your contract states what you have to give. 3 months just doesn't sound right.

Re:too short? Not in CA, USA (2, Informative)

Anna Merikin (529843) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857070)

According to California labor law (IANAL too) 72 hours notice is all an ordinary employee without a contract needs give an employer before leaving. The ONLY penalty for not giving even this amount of notice is one might lose accrued vacation time.

72 hours. That's all. Just enough time so you can't quit on a Friday after work and never show up again.

Check your local laws, but I'll bet it's similar anywhere in the US of A.

With respect to the Google case, there was a non-compete clause in the worker's contract, IIRC.

Re:too short? (5, Informative)

Doctor O (549663) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857354)

Blödsinn. (Bullshit, for our English readers.)

In Germany, the standard is four weeks to the end of the month or the 15th of the month, unless your contract states something else. If I were offered a contract telling me I had to wait three months until I can walk away, I'd ask them to have their heads examined. Also, companies want to get rid of people *quicker*, that's why there is so much discussion in Germany about changing the work laws to allow companies to fire people with no delay whatsoever.

Notice there's a difference in whether you're quitting or you're fired. You can always quit with four weeks notice, but if they want to fire you, it depends on how long you work at the place. A coworker has been fired after 11 years at the company and they had to give her four months notice.

There go my mod points, but this was SO wrong I had to jump in.

As a side note - I've got so much overtime and vacation left that when I find a new job, I can leave the same minute and they still have to pay me for eight weeks. (Of course I will offer to freelance at a fair rate to not endanger my projects, but that's only because I don't want to leave my coworkers stuck in the shit.) So there are your "three months notice".

IANAL Either, but... (2, Insightful)

ArchKaine (652697) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856778)

I'd strongly suggest you go over any paperwork that you might have, and make sure that you didn't inadvertently, through lack of knowledge, sign something that can be construed as a non-compete, or other type of non-disclosure agreement. As the old saying goes, cover your butt with paper.

Good luck on this.

Re:IANAL Either, but... (5, Insightful)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856856)

Non-compete agreements are tenuous at best, and very difficult to enforce. Essentially, in most regions in North America at least, you cannot lawfully stop someone from gainful employment.

In most cases, the ONLY way to ensure the effectiveness of a non-compete is to continue paying the person for the full term of the non-compete. I.e., if you don't want me to work for a competitor for the next 12 months, you have to pay me for the next 12 months instead.

Now - you CAN legally bind the person from not sharing confidential information or inside understanding of your business... but proving that is much tougher.

This is not a legal opinion (IANAL), but it IS a summary of legal advice was given to my wife (HR Manager) regarding employees of her company leaving.

MadCow.

Re:IANAL Either, but... (1)

ArchKaine (652697) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857044)

Understood. But, the point I was trying to make was simple. Be informed, so that any actions taken can be taken with full information and awareness of any potential outcome.

It might be rare for people to be successfully sued for such things, but it is still possible. So going in blind is a bad idea, even if the chances of his former employer winning are slim.

ArchKaine

Re:IANAL Either, but... (1)

Pablo El Vagabundo (775863) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857654)

"This is not a legal opinion (IANAL), but it IS a summary of legal advice was given to my wife (HR Manager) regarding employees of her company leaving."

Your from the US and your wife is a HR manager?? I though HR enquiries there went straight to Legal....

Of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17856792)

If you're in the USA, you can be sued for breathing!

Tatics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17856794)

They might not like the fact you are leaving but if you have given them the notice as you say you did, they can't sue you.

It happened to me more than once that my employer did not want me to go. They come up with things like it's illegal to compete with them and other tactics. Just don't listen to them and do it quickly.

There is a easy way out: Tell them your new employer will pay you X3 or X4 times more. They will let you go and understand it easily.

Yes (4, Informative)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856812)

In America you can sue anyone for anything.

Its a pain in the ass, it'll cost you some money, but they don't have a case so don't let it stress you out. The new company will need to deal with the suit on their end, the likelihood is their attorney can handle your suit as well.

Its happened to me twice, I think the total it cost me in legal expenses was $500 and a few hours to show up in court.

You may have good luck counter suing. Blog about it, too. Make sure potential customers of theirs know how they treat their employees.

The important thing is to not let it stress you out.

Re:Yes (3, Interesting)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857230)

In America you can sue anyone for anything.

And that statement makes about as much sense as "In Germany you can shoot anyone for any reason." Sure, in America you can sue anyone for anything, but bringing a frivolous lawsuit against someone is not legal.

Re:Yes (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857286)

Sure, in America you can sue anyone for anything, but bringing a frivolous lawsuit against someone is not legal.



Then let's put it this way: In America, you can ruin/make the life miserable for/generally fsck up a person (or even a company) by suing them repeatedly, even if you lose every time, as long as your budget for legal fees is bigger than theirs.


The lawsuits don't need to be frivolous, they just need to be baseless, but not baseless enough that they're thrown out immediately.

Re:Yes (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857394)

The lawsuits don't need to be frivolous, they just need to be baseless, but not baseless enough that they're thrown out immediately.
As I understand it (IANAL) the lawsuits need to be NOT completely baseless, otherwise the other guy might be able to convince the court (in a countersuit) that they were frivolous. In that case, you might end up paying his lawyers too.

Re:Yes (1)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857408)

In America, you can ruin/make the life miserable for/generally fsck up a person (or even a company) by suing them repeatedly, even if you lose every time, as long as your budget for legal fees is bigger than theirs.

Maybe in some rare instances this is possible, but not in general.

The lawsuits don't need to be frivolous, they just need to be baseless, but not baseless enough that they're thrown out immediately.

If you repeatedly sue someone for a baseless reason, surely the judge will award legal fees to that person. And if the lawsuit really is baseless, then your legal fees don't need to be very large in the first place.

I think you're confusing baseless lawsuits with lawsuits which are based on quite a bit of reason, but ultimately fail. These types of disputes can be expensive for both parties, to be sure, and US law is complicated enough that they do come up with some frequency.

Re:Yes (1)

mattpointblank (936343) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857312)

I think just by linking to the hosting company in this story, he's already done some damage to their rep. I host with Dreamhost anyway, but if I ever had to change I'd definitely steer clear of The Planet now, if this is how they treat their staff.

Re:Yes (1)

Thansal (999464) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857332)

Blog about it, too. Make sure potential customers of theirs know how they treat their employees.

He did:
I work at a large hosting company [theplanet.com] in Texas, and recently decided to go work for a smaller competitor

The fact that he wrote this as AC kinda makes me want to scream sour grapes or an attempt at a smear. Hell, if you want you can see the name of the guy who served up the news that they were going to sue him.

What's the basis of the lawsuit? (5, Interesting)

WaterDamage (719017) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856814)

If they gave you no explanation then they're full of hot air! They're only attempting to discourage you from sharing your knowledge with the smaller competitor. If your future employer refuses to offer you employment due to a possible lawsuit them you may have a VERY big check coming your way if you counter-sue your former employer for defamation and damages.

I used to work for a Fortune 500 company a few years back that attempted the exact same stunt to a coworker that quit, they were hoping to scare him accepting employment from a much smaller consulting company which happened to compete with them. In the end, the big Fortune 500 employer never sued, but the ex-coworker sued them for defamation and won a real nice 6 figures out of those a$$holes.

haha (0, Flamebait)

bazmail (764941) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856820)

hahaha what a fucking country. land of the free my ass.

Don't worry about it (1)

dgun (1056422) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856832)

The guy was just being a jackass. As a matter of fact, if you want to have a little fun, hire an attorney to send that VP your own notice of intent to sue. Maybe state that you are going to sue him for being a jackass.

Re:Don't worry about it (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857116)

Yeah. For maybe $200 you can get a lawyer to send them a letter stating your intent to sue them for making your life SO miserable at work that you HAD to quit. Of course it's bogus, but it would probably make them sweat a little. $200 well spent.

Re:Don't worry about it (1)

risk one (1013529) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857334)

Maybe state that you are going to sue him for being a jackass.
God bless America!

Sounds like Workplace bullying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17856836)

I suspect your employer management team is infected with Bullies. Specially because of the threat of suing you for quitting.

According to the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute [10], workplace bullying is "the repeated mistreatment of one employee targeted by one or more employees with a malicious mix of humiliation, intimidation and sabotage of performance." Statistics show that bullying is 3 times as prevalent as illegal discrimination and at least 1,600 times as prevalent as workplace violence. Statistics also show that while only one employee in every 10,000 becomes a victim of workplace violence, one in six experiences bullying at work. Bullying is also far more common than sexual harassment and verbal abuse.

Unlike the more physical form of schoolyard bullying, workplace bullying often takes place within the established rules and policies of the organization and society. Such actions are not necessarily illegal and may not even be against the firm's regulations; however, the damage to the targeted employee and to workplace morale is obvious.

Particularly when perpetrated by a group, workplace bullying is sometimes known as mobbing.

Smear? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17856844)

Seriously, did anyone check that this anonymous guy actually worked where he claimed to?

Re:Smear? (1)

bazmail (764941) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856888)

and how would we do that conclusively?

Re:Smear? (2, Insightful)

peterpi (585134) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856948)

You can't.
So maybe the "Large Hosting Company" should have been left anonymous.

Re:Smear? (1)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857614)

No worries! Nobody on slashdot actually RTFA's!

Silly (5, Insightful)

bloobloo (957543) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856860)

That seems ridiculous. Of course without any evidence to back this story up, Slashdot could probably now be sued by ThePlanet for libel.

Been there, done that (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17856870)

My wife had a former employer threaten to sue her if she took a local job in her industry. She went to a lawyer, and showed him the letter. The lawyer basically laughed at it, sent his own letter back and that was that.

Having said the above, not all lawyers are created equal. Get one who knows what he's doing about employment law. Our local bar association has a lawyer referral service and will give you the names of lawyers with the correct specialization. Call your local bar association and see if they have a similar service.

Re:Been there, done that (1)

The_Mr_Flibble (738358) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857426)

When my friend left his last job his former employee tried to sue him (all the customers left as when my friend left so did the rest of the engineers).
Everything my friend did was fully legal the customers left after the director of the original company told the clients that enquired about him told them that he was sacked.
Then the old company hired a lawyer that only ever dealt with family law to take them to court.
That was just hilarious.
The old company is currently being investigated for corporate manslaughter due to the fact the idiots they hired to replace the engineers managed to shut down all the power in a hospital.
I think my friends company is going to be getting that contract now as well.

Re:Been there, done that (5, Insightful)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857492)

For the sake of the OP... someone mod this up!

1. Call Bar association
2. Get reference for lawyer who know stuff about your case
3. Talk to lawyer.
4. Counter sue
5. Profit!

We have this little thing in the US... (1)

ccarr.com (262540) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856908)

...Called the 13th Amendment. http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constituti on.amendmentxiii.html [cornell.edu]

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Texas (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856916)

Is Texas a right-to-work state like Florida?

Re:Texas (1)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856950)

Yes.

Re:Texas (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857554)

Then the company doesn't have a leg to stand-on. Even if they do have a NDA with them all it can prevent is him from stealing their technology &/or taking their customers. IANAL, etc, etc...

You may still have a non-compete in place (5, Interesting)

GBC (981160) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856932)

On the facts provided, I think the only basis for your old employer being able to sue you would be if there was some form of non-compete in place. In that case, they could sue you for breach of the non-compete clause and they could potentially sue the new employer for inducing you to breach that provision.

Generally speaking, you should always try to have a written contract of employment so you know where you stand with regards your employment. Just because you didn't sign anything doesn't mean there are no terms under which you are employed - it is just that they have not been reduced to a written form.

If you were in a particularly senior position and/or handled sensitive information as part of your job, then it is likely that there would some form of non-compete in place. If you are able to, check your staff handbook (if any) and try to obtain a copy of a contract of employment from a friend at your old workplace to see if there is any mention of a non-compete clause. If there is, then it makes your position weaker unfortunately.

IAAL and I think the only people that ever win in court are the lawyers. It is in everyone's interests to avoid going to court if at all possible as it will be a waste of time, money and effort.

Perhaps you could try writing to the employer? Explain reasons for leaving, that you want to leave on good terms, wish them well etc. Say you were disappointed to hear that they are considering taking action against you and would like them to explain the basis for doing so.

Worse case scenario is that they go ahead. Best case, you find out that they were never consider taking action in the first place or they realise they are being silly and move on.

(Standard disclaimer: Whilst IAAL this should not be considered legal advice. See a local lawyer if you feel the situation warrants it).

Re:You may still have a non-compete in place (1)

taumeson (240940) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857088)

I know you have a right to get at your employee file, yes? Sounds like these jerks may try to dick him around a bit with it.

Another commenter mentioned that Texas is a right-to-work state. I've been told that non-competes and whatnot can be hard to enforce in right-to-work states, even had it existed.

I once told an old boss I was accepting an offer of employment elsewhere only to have a mutual acquaintance call up my wife to get the new location, call the new location and threaten them into not hiring me, and then want me to sign a contract saying I wasn't going to go anywhere. I quit right away.

Texas is a work at will. (3, Informative)

will_die (586523) | more than 6 years ago | (#17856994)

They can fire you for any reason execpt race,relgion,etc. In other words you are out of luck, just take the week with a smile; or since they fired you go file for unemployment.
However you could possibly sue them if they broke the employee handbook, that is generally considered a contract and breaking that has lead to million dollar lawsuits. However most companies settle out of court because of the bad press relations with future employees; how would you feel if when researching a company you find a message about that company firing people when they have given thier leave notice? When companies don't want soon to be former employees hanging around they normally just pay them the money for the remaining weeks and escort them out the door.

As for the lawsuit, time to hire a lawyer. Unless you were some grand person in thier company they probably don't have much of a recourse. You should get a lawyer and see if in Texas you can sue the other company for preventing you from performing in another job and see if filing for unemployment will hurt your case(it may strengthen it since confirms with an outside source that they fired you).

welcome to Neofeudalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17857114)

technically speaking the term is corporatism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporatism [wikipedia.org]

Unions (2, Interesting)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857152)

Stories like this makes me happy to live in a country where unions are the norm. The union would handle this case, and I wouldn't have to worry about it.

[ Most of the employers are actually happy with the unions as well, the unions tend to prevent strikes and make the salaries fluctuate less, which makes long time planning easier. ]

Re:Unions (5, Insightful)

DonnieD701 (735118) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857464)

the unions tend to prevent strikes and make the salaries fluctuate less, which makes long time planning easier.
Yep, they also make sure that even the worst employee keeps their job, and no matter how much you excel, you will still be paid the same amount the schlub only giving 50% does. I've worked in union and non-union shops. I can't stand unions....

Re:Unions (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17857494)

Stories like this makes me happy to live in a country where unions are the norm. The union would handle this case, and I wouldn't have to worry about it.

[ Most of the employers are actually happy with the unions as well, the unions tend to prevent strikes and make the salaries fluctuate less, which makes long time planning easier. ]
Yeah, unions are great at keeping the young and skilled OUT of work and keeping the old and unskilled protected from real job market competition. I have been denied work plenty of times because of unions.

The average workweek of a unionised employee is laughable. It won't cut it much longer, the good times are gone boys. Unions are obsolete and will eventually extinguish themselves.

Negotiation as an individual is far more rewarding for both the employee and employer.

Unions = racketeering, extortive monopolists, extremely damaging to international competitiveness and perpetuate unsustainable lifestyles.

Eventually younger generations will no longer put up with it. I daresay they're just about cocky enough these days.

sounds dumb (1)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857166)

They were really upset when I insisted on leaving and one week into my last two weeks the V.P. of Sales told me the company was suing me for leaving, and they were also suing my new employer for hiring me.

What did the new employer have to say about this? Are they willing to offer you free legal representation?

Personally I think I'd just ignore what the VP said until I see a formal notice in writing, assuming the new employer agrees that the threats are baseless. I personally wouldn't spend any money hiring a lawyer over such a thing, at least until I get some sort of notice to appear in court, but maybe that's dumb of me.

At-will employment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17857202)

You need to (1) do your own research on at-will employment in Texas to ease your anxiety and (2) hire an employment lawyer immediately if you are served with a suit.

If an employee haven't signed any sort of non-complete agreement or employment agreement, an employer is going to be hard pressed to find an attorney that will file suit against them. The vast majority of states presume "at-will employment", and that almost always literally means "at will". You could quit a job and leave immediately, and your employer could terminate you and escort you off the premises immediately. A reasonable Google search will save you the expense of consulting an attorney concerning Texas law, as firms tend to publish articles on the general scope of employment law as a way of informing potential clients and attracting business.

That being said, you may want to consult an attorney concerning your particular circumstances, and you definitely should retain a reputable attorney if you are served with a lawsuit. In most jurisdictions the courts have mechanisms for punishing those who file objectively baseless lawsuits, and the defendants can frequently recover their reasonable costs and attorney fees as part of the judicial sanction. An attorney will be intimately familiar with those rules and procedures.

I had a similar experience... (3, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857292)

In my case, the company I was working for had difficulty paying with checks that didn't bounce. Eventually a couple of us got together with another party to form another business. Somehow they discovered this plan, fired us and threatened the other party with a lawsuit and they wouldn't return our calls.

Texas is an at-will employment state. It allows either party to terminate employment for any reason or none at all. Employment agreements and non-competes still exist, however, and are often one-sided so one should be careful about working for people like that. (I once got a job offer from just such a company and their non-compete and other employee policies just made me feel creepy so I turned them down flat.)

The lawsuit is most likely an attempt at preventing him from being hired at a competitor's site. If the poster is truthful about the conditions stated, the employer's suit doesn't have merit and is merely a form of intimidation. This leads back to the other concensus which is the management at the bigger company is just not good. "Executive Hubris" is a term used is a previous Slashdot discussion and perhaps this is yet another example of such. I should hope that other employees at the bigger company are taking note of management's attitude...

What did your union say? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17857302)

Have you called your union yet? What did they say?

Re:What did your union say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17857458)

Have you called your union yet? What did they say?

They said my dues were behind, and also they gave me a sign I had to carry around or else be booted out.

Didn't we have a spat about this once??? (2, Insightful)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857398)

My understanding is that we all had a little brawl back in the 1860's which was based, in part, as to whether one man could FORCE another to work for him.
The result, I believe, was a rather empathic NO!

Perhaps you're just a pawn (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857440)

How big are they and how small is the competitor?

If their legal has a healthy wallet maybe they think they can crush the newcomer in legal expenses even if the case has no merit?

Also sounds like you are worth fighting for. If the competitor gives in and backs out of employing you, they have also won.

Most likely, you're an excuse. Isn't fighting your competition in court instead of fighting them in the marketplace the new front line of battle? They may have estimated the strength of the competitor, spreadsheeted it out and decided it makes sense to pursue this line.

 

There's got to me more (4, Insightful)

VoxCombo (782935) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857490)

Am I the only one who thinks there has to be more to the story? I know there are a lot of silly lawsuits out there, but c'mon...

Since the company escorted him out of the building they are not trying to leverage him to stay, so they must be trying to recover some damages. I'm not saying the company is right, I'm just saying that a large company with a legal department wouldn't waste their money on a lawsuit unless they had at least a CHANCE to get some money.

For example.......
Did he recently get a promotion that included relocation, which carried with it a minumum commitment? Something else? What's the rest of the story OP?

Bullshit. (5, Insightful)

Shihar (153932) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857582)

Am I the only one that finds it a LITTLE suspicious that this article links to two wikipedia articles, the "evil" hosting company, and is posted by an AC? Can we say smear campaign or disgruntle employee? People, this is a completely transparent ploy to smear the poor bastards who are being accused. It is a travesty that this crap was even posted in the first place. It would have been one thing if the hosting company hand not been named, or if the accuser had named themselves. The fact that only the 'evil' hosting company in question is named and there is absolutely zero evidence that they did anything wrong, not even an angry blog, should be causing all of your bullshit detectors to go off.

Personally, I am deeply disappointed that this blatant smear was even posted in the first place.

Right to Work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17857650)

Even if submitter did have a Non-Compete, they are not enforceable in the state of Texas. It is a Right to Work state and an At Will state. I love that. CI Host makes it's employees sign non-compete agreements. You 'Can't work at another hosting company for two years' - BS - just a scare tactic. CF and his mom (general counsel) will never win any of those cases. But Suing because you're quitting just seems silly. You aren't the only one that knows the root passwords or Priv Exec are you? ;-)

Right to Work [wikipedia.org]

At Will Employment [wikipedia.org]

your screwed (0, Troll)

SpaceballsTheUserNam (941138) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857706)

sorry to inform you, but you are liable for all losses to the company as a result of your departure, no-compete or not. Its not an at failt thing, you just cost them money and are liable. IANAL, but I did stay at a holiday in express last night.

Guess I'll throw in my 2 cents as well.. (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 6 years ago | (#17857738)

Most state have employment that is "at will" so, I unless there are some details we are unaware of, I can't imagine they would have a case. Then again, talking to a lawyer is probably not a bad idea.

As far as "non-legal" advice is concerned. I'd say that you should "stay professional". Be polite, be nice, keep everything "above board" and document everything you can. In the unlikely event it does got to trial, it just increases the odds that a jury will "like you better".

I can't say I was ever threatened to be sued over leaving, however, I was once told by the quality control guy at a place I worked at the [un-named company] maintained a stable of prostitutes for "entertaining" customers. He offered me the...uhhh...."on-going services" of one of them if I would re-consider.

I know what you are thinking but, when that happens in reality, it's more creepy than anything else.
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