Company prevents former employee working for competitor

A company has succeeded in preventing a former employee from working for a competitor for a set period and obliging her to return confidential documents.

The employee had worked as an office, accounts and recruitment manager and her written terms of service included confidentiality obligations.

During a review, the company identified accounting errors and it was thought that the employee was possibly responsible. An investigation took place and shortly afterwards the employee called in sick.

The company suspected that she was not unwell and had begun to work for a competitor. It hired a private detective and it emerged that she had attended a meeting with a colleague and the competitor, and that her car had been parked outside the competitor's office over two days.

She resigned and she brought a claim of sexual harassment, victimisation, sex discrimination and constructive dismissal.

The company applied for an injunction requiring her to comply with the terms of her service agreement. It contended that she had breached her contract by soliciting a colleague to work for the competitor and by working for the competitor while still employed by the company.

The employee denied working for the competitor and submitted that it had broken off all contact with her. She argued that she had offered undertakings and that the proceedings were being used to place pressure on her to settle her employment tribunal claim.

The High Court held that the company's evidence that the employee had solicited a colleague to work for the competitor was sufficient to disclose a serious issue to be tried. She might ultimately win at trial, but it could not be said that the company's case had no prospect of success.

The court granted an interim injunction, saying it would not increase the pressure on her to settle her claim.


Please contact Paul Stevens  on 020 8290 7422 or email if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.

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