another company stealing your employee from you

Is It Legal for Another Business to Steal Your Employee?

Alabama’s local economy depends to a large extent on its dynamic and fluid workforce. With the growing shortages of labor, the competition for top talent has become fierce. Proven high-performance employees are getting a lot of attractive offers from different competitors. This gives rise to a critical question of our times – is employee poaching legal?

The simple answer is that while there is no single law preventing employees from seeking lucrative opportunities, it is not entirely legal under certain circumstances. An experienced business law attorney in Alabama can help you assess your legal standing and determine whether your competitor was illegal in their approach to stealing your employees.

Non-Compete Agreements and Employee Raiding

The most clear-cut basis for potential liability is in the form of tortious interference when a competitor hires talent away from another company. Statutes governing employee non-compete agreements in Alabama were revamped in 2016. A new non-compete and non-solicitation statute was passed which repealed § 8-1-1 of the Alabama Code.

The New Act is not entirely clear on the subject of employee poaching but offers to regulate agreements that prevent the solicitation of a rival’s employees. Such agreements used to be considered partial restrictions of trade. Since 2016, non-solicitation agreements can be enforced to prevent the solicitation of any current employee by a departing employee if they hold a uniquely essential position to the management.

However, it is important to understand that the New Act has essentially left this as a gray area that is open to interpretation by the courts. Even where there is an absence of restrictive covenants in the form of non-compete agreements, the hiring company may face potential liability for raiding or poaching.

Claim for Misappropriation of Trade Secrets and Unfair Competition

Even without a non-compete agreement, the hiring competitor can always become a target for a misappropriation of trade secrets claim. These claims are governed under the Alabama Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Alabama statute section 8-19-1 provides for statutes governing unfair or deceptive trade practices.

There is also the potential exposure to unfair competition. The viability of such claims hinges on the numbers. For instance, you may not have a claim if the company hired one or two employees, but you may have a problem if the firm hired a large number of workers.

There is minimal exposure in 1 – 2 employees and you may not be able to prove unfair competition without the existence of trade secrets and non-compete agreements. However, in the case of a large exposure, the hiring company’s actions can be termed as unfair competition, even without trade secrets and non-compete agreements.

The Alabama Deceptive Trade Practices Act is a powerful weapon and can be difficult to defend against. A practice is termed unfair if it is unethical, immoral, unscrupulous, oppressive, or substantially injurious to consumers.

Potential Exposure for Tortious Interference

Employee poaching or raiding can become an issue for liability to the hiring company. Tortious interference is the most clear-cut theory of liability, especially in the case of employees that are subject to restrictive covenants. The company can be deemed to have tortuously interfered with:

  • The employee contract
  • Your customer relationships

The notion that the rival company tortiously interfered with your customer relationships arises from the fact that the employee they poached had access to a sensitive customer database. This can be proved to be in violation of the non-solicitation or non-compete agreement.

No-Poaching Agreements

Typically, a no-poaching agreement is a contract between an employee and employer that the employee is barred from hiring other employees for a particular period of time in the event the employee leaves their employment with the employer. These agreements are referred to as non-solicitation agreements or no-poaching agreements.

A variant of the agreements can exist between two businesses as well. A business bringing in an outside consultant for a particular project may agree to not directly hire the firm’s employees.

Federal Prosecution for Illegal Employee Raiding

The Fair Trade Commission Act prohibits “unfair or deceptive trade practices” and “unfair methods of competition.” 15 U.S.C. § 45(a)(1). The Sherman Antitrust Act prohibits any contract in “restraint of trade or commerce.” 15 U.S.C. § 1. The FTC and the DOJ are authorized to enforce these antitrust laws on a federal level.

In addition, the Supreme Court has held that any violation of the Sherman Act will be deemed as an automatic violation of the Fair Trade Commission Act. This means that the FTC can pursue those businesses that engage in unfair behavior which can seem to violate the Sherman Act and other trade practices.

It is important to note that Sherman Act violations can result in civil actions as well as criminal prosecutions. The FTC has the power to refer Sherman Act violations to the DOJ. Private plaintiffs injured by the antitrust violations are allowed to bring civil actions for compensation and damages.

Get Legal Representation from a Reputable Alabama Business Law Attorney

The employment law attorneys at Birmingham Law Group can review and bolster your contracts to ensure they offer maximum flexibility and protection to your organization. We realize the time and resources spent on building a team and we will provide the strong legal guidance necessary to ensure you get the favorable resolution you are looking for.

Schedule your free case review with our lawyers today. Call us at (205) 964-9764 or contact us online.


workplace discrimination attorneys in Birmingham, Alabama

Common Types of Workplace Discrimination

Discrimination by employers against certain employees at the workplace based on their race, gender, national origin, religion, age, or marital status is a violation of the law. These types of discrimination are not legally permissible during the hiring process as well.

Discriminatory practices can infiltrate every aspect of employment. Instances may include paying differently to equally qualified employees or discriminating while offering a promotion. Such practices can create a hostile work environment. Keep reading to learn more about the common types of workplace discrimination.

Types of Discrimination at Alabama Workplaces

These are five common types of workplace discrimination:

  1. Illegal retaliation

According to a report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, retaliation against illegal forms of discrimination is the most commonly cited complaint. Retaliation occurs when an employee experiences tangible consequences of demanding their right to make a formal complaint. Retaliation falling into this category includes termination, demotions, cuts in pay, and cuts in hours.

  1. Racial discrimination

There are certain instances of racial discrimination that are more obvious than others. For instance, being fired, demoted, denied equal treatment, denied a fair salary, refused employee benefits or training, or harassed for racial reasons. There are certain instances in which random comments, seemingly harmless statements, or criticism may have an underlying meaning that has a discriminatory shade to it. This is easier to prove if there is a pattern to the behavior.

  1. Gender discrimination

Gender or sex discrimination happens when a job applicant or an employee is treated differently because of their gender. There are several issues covered under the gender discrimination law. This includes equal pay issues, sexual harassment, career development limitations based on gender, stalled promotion, marital status discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, parental status discrimination, gender expression, and gender identity.

  1. Disability discrimination

This type of workplace discrimination can take several forms. It may include comments made about the disability, failing to promote, offering less favorable working conditions, termination, laying off the employee, or disciplinary proceedings. The disability discrimination in certain cases may be a failure to accommodate the discrimination based on not providing or discussing alternatives to allow the disabled employee to better perform their job duties.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, at the minimum, requires all employers to discuss proposed reasonable accommodations with employees that have disabilities to make their life easier at the workplace.

  1. Age discrimination

Employers may discriminate against older workers with harsh comments or by placing pressure on them to retire from their positions. They may talk about needing a ‘youthful or energetic’ workforce. The employer may also refuse to hire a qualified candidate as well based on their age.

In the US, employees above the age of 40 are protected by the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) against age discrimination. The ADEA was amended by the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) in 1990 to give more protections to an older workforce.

You have the right to be heard if you are suffering undue harassment or discrimination at work. You should not be a victim of retaliation at the workplace. Get in touch with a reputable employment attorney today to discuss your legal options.

Employment Attorneys Can Help with Workplace Discrimination

You have the right to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if you believe you have suffered discrimination at your workplace. Correlating with this, there are strict deadlines for filing a discrimination charge. Including irrelevant details will only bloat the claim and confuse the authorities. An attorney can help you file the claim and include only those details that support it.

They will also ensure the discrimination claim is filed in a timely and accurate manner. You may be entitled to a settlement if the EEOC states that discrimination occurred. This may include reinstatement, obtaining past and future earnings, compensatory damages, promotion, and other remedies. In Alabama, anti-discrimination laws are based on federal statutes with limited causes of action from common and state laws.

You need to file a signed written charge or complaint of discrimination to make a claim under the federal statutes. This needs to be filed with the relevant administrative agency of the government.

In general, if the discrimination you have experienced is a violation of Title VII, the ADEA, or the ADA, you get 180 days to file your complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This is from the date the discrimination took place.

You would need to file a claim with the National Labor Relations Board if it is owing to union activity. This should be done within 6 months of the action following union activity.

Contact an Experienced Alabama Employment Law Attorney Today

The legal team at BHM Law Group believes that all people should be treated justly and fairly in the workplace. Our attorneys are here to fight for your rights if you believe you are a victim of workplace discrimination. We will help you understand your legal options during a free case evaluation. Call us at (205) 994-0902 or reach us online to book an appointment with us.