When to Leave Your Employer, Before Competing with Them

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – An interesting complaint was filed on the 30th by Bette Solis against Worldpay US, Inc. Ms. Solis alleges that she was an account executive at the payment processing company and, per contract, was entitled to commissions on accounts she procured. The complaint says defendant stopped paying, claiming Ms. Solis started a new competing business while still working for them.

The case raises a few questions that come up often. First, is it ok to work for two places at once? In general, employees owe fiduciary duties to their employers and cannot secretly compete with them. There are a line of cases that say it is ok to prepare to start a new job/company while still on payroll, but not to the point of compeintg. There is also some authority saying moonlighting is ok, but again probably not if the gig directly competes.

There is another legal rule in play here and that is with respect to contractual obligations post-breach. In general, if one party breaches a contract, the other party is excused from further performance. Whether forming a new competing company constitutes a breach will depend on the facts. There are also issues in the Solis case related to terms and conditions allegedly never provided, and potentially unenforceable non-compete clauses therein.

This blog reports on cases filed in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. The statements made are based on the allegations in court-filed documents. Allegations are just accusations, and may or may not be true.
The authors of the blog are attorneys at the San Francisco litigation firm, Wood Robbins, LLP. If you have a legal issue, send them an email. If they cannot help you, they will try and point you in the right direction.