We generally like to encourage people to work where they want, so non-compete agreements only survive court scrutiny if they are narrow in scope.
Starbucks may have its work cut out for it.
The coffee chain has sued a former executive in Washington state federal court for going to work at low-cost rival Dunkin doughnuts.
Starbuck claims the man, Paul Twohig, signed a non-compete agreement that prohibits him for 18 months from working as a manager at any Starbucks’ competitor within 50 miles of any Starbucks, Reuters reports.
The complaint says Twohig asked to be released from the non-compete to work at Dunkin, but Starbucks refused. He took the job anyway.
Discovery will reveal what kind of coffee trade secrets Twohig possesses and exactly what his new job entails at Dunkin — all things that will be important to show how necessary and reasonable the non-compete is in this case.
But considering the omnipresence of Starbucks, the non-compete might as well say Twohig cannot work as a manager at a competitor, period. Just for fun, we searched how many Starbucks are within 50 miles of one Starbucks-less Texas town with a population of 7,000. The Starbucks website lists 163.
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