Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
The term "management personnel" under Colo. Rev. Stat. § 8-2-113(2)(d) (2008) undoubtedly encompasses key personnel, employees who are in charge, those at the heart of the business, and those few executives at the highest echelons of a company. However, to exclude from the definition of "management personnel" those managers who direct, control, and supervise other employees, inappropriately narrows the statutory language and is inconsistent with the plain language of the statute.
Defendant employee was hired to be the Commercial Director at the plaintiff employer. The defendant employee decided to leave the plaintiff employer six months later. As one of nine directors, he directly supervised fifty out of the employer's 22,000 employees nationwide. Although he was several layers under the CEO, he was at the top level of compensation and at least at the start of the decision-making level. The plaintiff employer brought an action against the defendant employee, seeking to enjoin the defendant employee from working for a competitor based on a noncompete agreement. The trial court found that the defendant employee was a mid-level manager at best, and therefore was not "management personnel" within the meaning of Colo. Rev. Stat. § 8-2-113(2) (2008), which provided that covenants not to compete were enforceable as to management personnel but void as to other types of employees. Plaintiff employer appealed.
Was the defendant employee "management personnel" within the meaning of Colo. Rev. Stat. § 8-2-113(2) (2008)?
The court held that the trial court erred in limiting the phrase "management personnel" to key personnel at the heart of a business and thus incorrectly applied the law to the facts. Because the employee was a mid-level manager who supervised fifty employees, was otherwise at the top of the compensation scheme, was employed in a decision-making capacity, and had a certain level of autonomy, he was "management personnel" under § 8-2-113. The case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings, including consideration of whether a permanent injunction was appropriate.