Before you bring suit against an ex-employee, you might want to consider whether their exist any skeletons in your employment closet that could come back to haunt you in the litigation. Case in point-Automotive Support Group, LLC v. Hightower [pdf], decided yesterday by the 6th Circuit.
Automotive Support Group sued two ex-employees for breaching the non-competition provisions in their employment agreements. One of the sued employees, Don Ray McGowan, counterclaimed in the lawsuit for unpaid wages and severance owed under his employment agreement.
The appellate court affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the company's claims. It also affirmed the trial court's judgment for McGowan on his unpaid wage and severance claims. How much did the employee win? $70,501.31-$750 in unpaid wages (trebled under the applicable South Carolina wage payment statute), $2,500 in severance pay, and $65,751.31 in attorneys' fees. Add to that $70,000 whatever the company paid its own lawyers to litigate this case.
There are two lessons for employers that leap to mind:
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