back to article Choc-a-block: AWS sues sales exec for legging it to Google Cloud. Yup, another bitter battle over non-compete clauses

Amazon is suing a former AWS sales exec in the US after he suddenly jumped ship to rival Google Cloud, contrary to the non-compete clause in his contract. Philip Moyer, who lives in Pennsylvania, joined Amazon Web Services in 2017, and signed, in the tech giant's home state of Washington, an agreement to not work for a …

  1. Mage Silver badge
    Pirate

    Crazy

    Why are companies allowed to insist on contracts that turn people in serfs or something? Basically be unemployed if you want to leave.

    I do agree that people should not be allowed to exploit intellectual property of an employer when they leave, but often that is dishonestly interpreted by the exploitive company.

    Even claiming ownership of a client list and forbidding contact can be disingenuous as in many valuable markets all the potential customers are known and who they are currently buying from.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Crazy

      Company money lots have

      Serfs money none have

      Injustice there is

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Boffin

      @Mage Not so crazy ... Re: Crazy

      These employment agreements are very complex and the law isn't so simple.

      First, where did the employee work. While AWS is in Washington State, if he was employed in a state where he has the right to work, the contract may not be enforceable.

      Second is the concept of consideration. Was he provided with a bonus to compensate him for a gardening period.

      Third duration. 18 months. That's a long time.

      So AWS could have presented a contract and forced him to sign it while knowing its not enforceable.

      IBM does this all the time. The real issue though is if the contract was not too restrictive. Meaning AWS restricts him from Google but not Azure.

      This is where you need a good lawyer.

      The first thing Google will do is to try and get it tossed out right. If not... then argue jurisdiction. Since AWS has a business presence in his state (PA).

      1. Donn Bly

        Re: @Mage Not so crazy ... Crazy

        Amazon sued Moyer, not Google, so Google isn't in a position to have anything tossed.

  2. ratfox Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    What if he signs a non-compete clause in Washington, then works for a competitor in California, where non-compete clauses cannot be enforced? Are there interstate extraditions?

    In any case, it's interesting that Amazon, despite its overwhelming lead, feels the need to do this for a sales exec.

  3. eldakka Silver badge

    I have no problem with non-compete's on the following condition:

    The employer inserting the non-compete is required to pay the employee for paid leave, at the new rate they have been offered, for the duration of the non-compete.

    So in this case, AWS should have to pay the employee (well, now ex) to take paid leave for 18 months at the rate he is signing on with Google at.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      "AWS should have to pay the employee"

      I do believe AWS has refused to do this.

      C.

    2. MAF

      If shoe were on other foot?

      Additionally, if they dismiss an employee then they (AWS) ought to pay gardening leave for the period of the cause in addition to any redundancy package.

      Also, an employment contract can be terminated by either party. Once the contract is terminated, surely any clause is null and void?

    3. M.V. Lipvig

      I disagree, the rate should be 5 times the amount times the length of time. This will limit non-compete clauses to where they are really needed.

  4. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Incompetent counsel

    US Constitution, Article III, Section 2: The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, ... between Citizens of different States.

    This is not a case for the courts of the State of Washington.

    Unless I'm missing something?

    1. Donn Bly

      Re: Incompetent counsel

      Yes, you are missing something. If you read the linked filing you would find:

      III.JURISDICTION AND VENUE

      5. This Court has jurisdiction over Moyer and the subject matter of this action because Moyer entered into the Confidentiality, Noncompetition and Invention Assignment Agreement (“Noncompetition Agreement”) with Amazon in Washington and Moyer expressly consented to the exclusive jurisdiction of courts located in King County, Washington in the Noncompetition Agreement.

      6.Venue properly lies in King County because a substantial part of the events giving rise to this claim occurred in King County and the express terms of Moyer’s Noncompetition Agreement with Amazon provide that venue for any action brought to enforce that agreement shall be in King County, Washington

  5. Bob9911

    Seems he signed the agreement

    and now wants to ignore that? Sounds like Amazon are fully within their rights. What's the story here?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seems he signed the agreement

      The story here is that people don't *like* noncompetes, so it's a cheap way to get people agitated. And they shouldn't like them; they're obviously a huge problem for the employee. But you're correct; the story here, such as it is, is that the time to address the terms of a deal is when you are negotiating them, not once you have chosen to breach them. The argument that Amazon doesn't have any problem hiring people in California, against whom they cannot enforce these clauses anyway, is a strong one to raise at the bargaining table. If they still insist, you simply don't sign, or you move to California or another state in which these clauses are unenforceable. Unfortunately, while that argument should carry the day at the bargaining table, it's unlikely to impress a judge after the fact. That will make people angry, which sells newspapers.

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