Non-Compete Agreement Protects Florida Studio from Unfair Competition by Former Employee
March 19, 2019
In late July 2018, Gainesville Health and Fitness (the “Club”) sued one for its former yoga and Pilates instructors for breach of contract, tortious interference with business relationships, unjust enrichment and violations of Florida’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act. According to the Club, this former employee resigned and then immediately began working for a rival club as a yoga and Pilates instructor in direct violation of the non-competition agreement she signed. She also allegedly started soliciting the Club’s clients to join her at her new club and started sharing the Club’s confidential client, pricing and marketing information in an effort to compete with the Club, also in violation of the agreement she signed. Because this employee had been working for the Club for over 10 years and because she was one of its best instructors, as well as one of its most senior and highest paid, she was in a position to do a lot of damage to the Club’s yoga and Pilates programs by unfairly competing with it.
Hitting back on the July 2018 lawsuit, the former employee filed an Amended Complaint against the Club on January 28, 2019. She sued for back wages, claiming that she was paid by the hour but that she worked approximately 10 hours per week off-the-clock, performing such tasks as attending mandatory trainings, marketing, communicating with Club members by text, email and phone, researching Club members’ payment or class histories, writing blogs and cleaning the studio. As of the date of today’s email, the case remains pending with discovery motions and hearings ongoing.
This case is illustrative of the many challenges faced by yoga studios and how the proper legal documents and advice can help mitigate those challenges. Luckily, the Club was in a position to take its former employee to court to stop her attempts at unfair competition, because it drafted and had her sign the proper non-competition, non-solicitation and non-disclosure documents while she was employed. Unfortunately for the Club, however, it may not have sought legal advice regarding the payment of wages for hourly employees.
The attorneys at Shulman Rogers have experience in drafting non-competition, non-solicitation and non-disclosure agreements for yoga studios, as well as experience advising fitness centers in wage and hour requirements. Please feel free to dial me directly if you have any legal concerns related to your yoga studio!
The contents of this Alert are for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact us.