The Inbox - August 16, 2013

| Jason M. Knott

It’s unseasonably cool here in Washington, DC, where most of our Suits by Suits editors toil.  News about the latest in disputes between employers and executives, however, is always in season.  Here are the latest headlines:

  • Ruth Simon and Angus Loten of the Wall Street Journal brought us this excellent take on the rising tide of non-compete litigation.  According to Simon and Loten, non-compete agreements are spreading beyond the executive ranks to sales representatives, engineers, and researchers.  For more, check out our ongoing State-by-State Smackdown series on the changing law of non-competes in various states (here, here, here . . . and here).
  • A conference call hosted by AOL’s chief exec Tim Armstrong took an unpleasant turn when Armstrong fired – on the spot – Abel Lenz, an employee who was videotaping the call.  The New York Times reported that Armstrong later admitted that he made a “mistake” in the hasty firing, which was broadcast to a thousand employees.  Lenz’s photos of his last moments at AOL later surfaced online at jimromenesko.com
  • The Third Circuit upheld a decision by the Luzerne County (PA) Retirement Board to terminate the benefits it was paying to a former county clerk, William Brace, based on Brace’s guilty plea to a bribery charge.  Brace claimed that the termination violated his constitutional rights, but the court disagreed, holding that Brace was not entitled to a hearing before the decision.  Brace’s crime appears to have been the acceptance of a $1,500 tailor-made suit from a county contractor, which puts this case in the unique category of Suits by Suits over Suits.
  • Matt Reynolds of Courthouse News Service reported that IMAX has sued a competitor for trade secret misappropriation.  IMAX’s complaint alleges that Gary Tsui, a former IMAX employee, sold its 2-D and 3-D conversion technology to the competitor, GDC Technology USA, which is now using the secrets to compete with IMAX.  It calls Tsui an “international fugitive.”  Sounds like this case may be exciting enough for the big screen.
  • A former U.S. Bank manager, Serge Adamov, has successfully appealed the dismissal of his claim that he was terminated in retaliation for complaints of discrimination based on his Azerbaijani origin.  The Sixth Circuit held that when an employee does not exhaust his remedies in the Department of Labor before bringing suit in federal court, that failure does not deprive a district court of jurisdiction over the case.  As a result, because the bank did not raise a failure to exhaust as part of its motion to dismiss Adamov’s suit, the district court could not raise it on its own as a ground to get rid of the claim.