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Racine v. Bender - 141 Wash. 606, 252 P. 115 (1927)

Rule:

The general rule applied in construing employment contracts is that restrictions therein are upheld, if they meet the test of showing that they are not greater than are reasonably necessary to protect the business or good will of the employer, even though they restrain the employee of his liberty to engage in a certain occupation or business and deprive the public of the services or restrain trade.

Facts:

Appellant brought an action to enjoin respondent from doing business with its former clients. During employment, nothing was said as to restrictions upon respondent's future employment, but appellant required him to prepare report each week showing clients for whom he performed work. On weekly report signed by respondent was warranty provision against soliciting or working for any client of appellant for three years after end of employment. Respondent later opened his own school and business and performed work for many of appellant's clients. The court ruled in favor of the respondent.

Issue:

Is the warranty provision against soliciting with appellant’s clients for three years a reasonable restriction against respondent employee?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court reversed and upheld the restriction because it was not unreasonable either as to time or to persons, there was no showing that respondent's labor for livelihood was or would be affected, and it was valid. Evidence showed several of appellant's former clients changed to respondent's business, and appellant was substantially damaged.

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