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Noncompete agreement spotlighted in disputed employment matter

A recent business story focused on a key employee's departure from one mega-retailer to work for its biggest rival underscores the divergent goals and interests of three separate parties.

There is Walmart, for instance, the company that senior vice president and chief tax officer Lisa Wadlin recently left. That giant conglomerate obviously has concerns regarding the protection of proprietary data and trade secrets that might be compromised whenever a top-tier executive pursues new employment.

And then there is Amazon, the new recipient of Wadlin's obvious skills and deep knowledge. That company clearly has the right to recruit and secure top-tier talent to further its business goals.

And there is Wadlin herself, of course, who is accorded the right under American laws to pursue a livelihood without restrictions that unduly impinge on her career-related opportunities.

Those varied objectives sometimes clash in what plays out as a contractual dispute spotlighting the parameters of what a departing employee can - and perhaps cannot - do when leaving one company to take up a position with a business rival.

At the core of such disputes is often a noncompete agreement that an employer and key worker mutually execute to set forth conditions applicable to departure and a new job elsewhere. Walmart signed one of those with Wadlin, and it recently filed a lawsuit grounded in its concern that she may be violating its material terms by joining Amazon. The retailer specifically alleges that Wadlin needs to wait a requisite period of time before beginning new employment with Amazon or any other company of similar size and stature.

The matter will either be settled outside court or via a litigated outcome at trial.

We note on our business website at the Manhattan law firm of Rich Michaelson Magaliff that "much of our work involves breaches of noncompete agreements." Our experienced attorneys review, negotiate and draft such agreements for both business principals and employees, and additionally take disputed matters to court when that is necessary.

We welcome readers' inquiries to the firm to discuss our demonstrated advocacy on behalf of clients with employment-related matters or other business concerns.

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