Yes people, the Devil sells real estate.
A very bitter ex-employee, Albert Sultan, is suing his ex-employer, Jack Terzi, for a number of egregious acts that allegedly occurred during his three year tenure as a real estate sales agent, reports the New York Post. In addition to constant verbal abuse, he also had scissors thrown at him, was bitten, intentionally sneezed upon, and has his clothes peed on.
There were no vacations and no sick days. There was a $15 per minute fine for being late, $30 per minute fine for leaving early, and a $1,000 fine for missing a Sunday shift. There's more, but you get the point.
In addition to the torturous work environment during Sultan's three years in hell, his contract also included a four year non-compete agreement. This meant he couldn't work for anyone in the same industry for four years after he left the firm.
On the other hand, Terzi is claiming that Sultan was a disloyal employee that quit without notice and started his own business using confidential information that he stole to start his own business.
Non-compete clauses are traditionally disfavored in New York, according to Hofstra Law's L.E.Jer. Courts don't like contracts that keep people from working in their trained occupation. However, they have started to backtrack a bit, if certain requirements are met:
- The agreement should have been mutually agreed upon by the employer and employee;
- The employer should have a need to protect some legitimate interest;
- The employee should not be unduly harmed;
- The clause should not be injurious to the public;
- The clause should be reasonable, meaning it should be limited geographically and temporally.
For this specific agreement, there are definitely strong arguments for each side. It was mutually agreed upon, assuming they have a written employment contract. The employer definitely has a legitimate interest to protect, as his former employee has now allegedly started his own business with information from Terzi's real estate firm. Employees get access to this sort of information, plus client lists. Without non-compete agreements, they can essentially steal their boss's business when they become disgruntled.
On the other hand, the agreement does seem a little unreasonable. It lasts four years. Previous cases have approved lengths of up to two years. There is no information on geographic limitations in the news reports, but court cases have upheld distances as far as 150 miles from the employer's office.
- Discuss Your Boss's Bladder With a New York Personal Injury Attorney (FindLaw)
- Ex-worker suing real estate boss, Jack Terzi, for $5 million for abuse, fines, and urinating (New York Daily News)
- Preventing Defection: Confidentiality and the Non-Compete (FindLaw's Free Enterprise Blog)
- Exploring Non-Compete Agreements in New York (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)