A stylist who opened her own shop won’t be facing legal claims from her former salon, after B&B Attorneys Eric LeBlanc and Michaela May successfully moved to dismiss all of the salon’s five counterclaims against their client.
The salon alleged that the stylist had breached a non-competition agreement by servicing clients and opening her own shop following her separation from employment, but a judge of the Boston Litigation Session of the Suffolk Superior Court disagreed in a decision issued on February 22, 2022. In an apparent issue of first impression, Judge Kenneth W. Salinger found that the non-compete period began more than a year before the employee’s separation, when the employee was furloughed for several months at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Court also found that the salon had no legitimate business interest in limiting the stylist’s work, as the complaint did not sufficiently plead legitimate interests to be protected by the agreement. A desire to stifle “ordinary competition” is not sufficient to uphold a non-competition agreement. Rather, as Judge Salinger noted, “[e]mployees are free to quit their job, start working for a competitor, and use their ‘general knowledge, experience, memory and skill’ to compete against their former employer.”
Now unhindered by the counterclaims, B&B continues to represent the stylist in her capacity as a putative class representative to in a suit against the salon to recover unpaid wages.
The decision, Harrell v. Backstage Salon & Day Spa, Inc., Mass. Super. Ct., No. 2184CV01795-BLS2 (Feb, 22, 2022) may be found here- Order on Motion to Dismiss.