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March 14, 2012 1:46 PM   Subscribe

YANAL, but... A young friend of mine got a job with a service company that does substantial business with his (then) current employer. His current employer found out and called the employer-to-be and told them that, if they go through with the hiring, they'll discontinue doing business with the employer-to-be. In short order, the employer-to-be rescinded the job offer and the current employer terminated him.

My friend has sought me out to offer advice and, despite searching, I cannot seem to find anything specific to this situation. I have suggested that he seek the services of -- or at least an initial consultation with -- an attorney versed in employment law. He is reluctant to spend that money unless he knows that he at least has a plausible chance of recourse.

So, I am flying this question here to see if folks think that there's something here worth the attention, and attendant cost, of a session with an attorney.

This is in Washington State.
posted by bz to Law & Government (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
IAN your friend's L, but IAL.

If friend was an at-will employee of then-current employer then there is nothing illegal or actionable about the conduct of either employer on the facts stated.

Time to apply for unemployment and get more resumes out.
Sorry.
posted by BrooksCooper at 1:49 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unless your friend had a contract that was violated, or worked for Washington State or the Federal Government, which it doesn't sound like he was, he is SOL. That sucks, sorry.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:52 PM on March 14, 2012


IANAL. Washington state is an at-will state::

Termination

What rights does a worker have whose job is being terminated?

Workers cannot be fired for filing a:

Workplace rights complaint.
Safety complaint.
Injured worker claim.

Likewise, they can't be fired in violation of civil rights laws or negotiated contract agreements (well, they *can* be fired, but then they can sue). None of this seems to apply to your friend, which means your friend is sadly out of luck.
posted by rtha at 1:53 PM on March 14, 2012


Thank you all. I will relay the sad, but unsurprising news. The whole thing just seemed so capricious that I was a little unsure of how to advise. It turns out his reluctance to spend money on representation was the correct instinct.
posted by bz at 1:58 PM on March 14, 2012


He should call the employer-to-be and say that his ex-employer terminated him for looking for a new job, and they are now free to hire him. (Assuming no non-compete contract is in play.)
posted by kindall at 2:01 PM on March 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


Wait, stop. Have your friend call a plaintiff's attorney in Washington. There just aren't enough facts yet to know whether he doesn't have a claim. The initial consultation will almost certainly be free. We don't even know whether your friend is employed at will, what the contractual relationships between all the parties are, and so on.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:03 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


A consultation will almost certainly be free. I would not take the advise of random people on the internet over the advice of an actual attorney when it costs him nothing to ask the question.
posted by empath at 2:05 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


He could consult with a lawyer and send a note to his company asking them to reconsider their position about stopping business with the other company and supporting the move, or risk him publishing an op-ed Goldman-style 'Smith' piece in the local news about how the company treats employees.

I suggest the lawyer just to make sure he won't get himself into any legal trouble doing so.
posted by rich at 2:06 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


"He should call the employer-to-be and say that his ex-employer terminated him for looking for a new job, and they are now free to hire him."

He was told that if the new company "ever hired him" the current/old company would terminate the services with the new company. It seems to have been inexplicably vindictive, at least to my way of thinking. What is even weirder to me is that the owner of the current employer is a very wealthy guy and the kid who was checkmated out of work a 20-year old doing a menial, entry-level job.

I have posted all of the facts that I know.

I will suggest that he have an initial consultation but, in my personal experience, no consultation has ever been free but, then, I have never consulted with an employment attorney.

Again, thanks.
posted by bz at 2:18 PM on March 14, 2012


It may also be that the current-company has a clause in their contract that forbids the new-company from poaching employees, though I'm not sure how enforceable such a thing is which is why your friend should consult an attorney. Such a clause may not be something he'd be a party to and unfortunately it doesn't sound like new-company is that vested in bringing him on board.
posted by marylynn at 2:26 PM on March 14, 2012


The Oregon State Bar offers initial lawyer consultations for $35. Many Oregon lawyers are also licensed in Washington due to proximity. Visit oregonstatebar.org to get the number for Lawyer Referral and ask for a Washington attorney.

IANAL but I work for several.
posted by tacodave at 2:29 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


IANYL, IANYFL, TINLA. Even if BrooksCooper is right, and your friend has no claim against his former employer for firing him, he may well have a claim for tortious interference with a business relationship or some related claim arising out of the fact that his employer acted affirmatively to prevent him from being hired by the other company - we just don't know. He needs to talk to a lawyer.
posted by dilettanti at 3:23 PM on March 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


^ correct. Still worth him contacting a lawyer.
posted by jabberjaw at 3:29 PM on March 14, 2012


It turns out his reluctance to spend money on representation was the correct instinct.

Not so fast. Plaintiff-side employment attorneys, like most plaintiff's attorneys who do this sort of personal work, always give free consultations. And they'll probably take the thing on contingency, meaning the lawyer takes a cut of any recovery, but doesn't charge an hourly rate or flat fee. I think the tortious interference claim sounds like it might have merit, but I'm clearly not in a position to give any kind of advice about that.

Your friend should definitely make an appointment with an employment lawyer and see what's up.
posted by valkyryn at 4:43 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not so fast. Plaintiff-side employment attorneys, like most plaintiff's attorneys who do this sort of personal work, always give free consultations. And they'll probably take the thing on contingency, meaning the lawyer takes a cut of any recovery, but doesn't charge an hourly rate or flat fee. I think the tortious interference claim sounds like it might have merit, but I'm clearly not in a position to give any kind of advice about that.
Neither of those things is at all certain to be true. My wife is a plaintiff's employment attorney and she charges for consultations and very, very rarely takes cases on commission. Only one of her competitors does free consults. She says that she could imagine a couple of potential causes of action and that her advice would be to consult an employment attorney to discuss the nuances. She suggests using www.nela.org to locate someone who specializes in that field.
posted by Lame_username at 9:51 PM on March 14, 2012


I would talk with a lawyer.
posted by J. Wilson at 9:56 PM on March 14, 2012


Lame_username, thanks!
posted by bz at 10:32 PM on March 14, 2012


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