A New Jersey district court recently held that an employee handbook provision could not be enforced as a valid confidentiality agreement between a company and a former employee. Metropolitan Foods, Inc. d/b/a Driscoll Foods v. Kelsch [pdf] involved a former employee of Driscoll Foods (Kelsch), who was accused of soliciting orders for his new employer while still working for Driscoll. Driscoll sued Kelsch under a number of causes of action, including breach of contract.
Articles Discussing New Jersey Employment At-Will.
Employeeâ€™s Secret Competition with Employer Breached Duty of Loyalty, New Jersey Court Finds
New Jersey recognizes the right of a worker to prepare to compete with his or her employer even while in the employerâ€™s employ, provided the preparation does not involve taking the employerâ€™s confidential and proprietary information and property. However, New Jersey also recognizes that the worker owes a duty of undivided loyalty to act solely for â€” and in the best interests of â€” his or her employer. The workerâ€™s right, therefore, does not curtail his duty to his employer, a New Jersey Appellate Division court has confirmed. Baseline Services, Inc. v. Kutz, 2011 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2309 (NJ App. Div. Aug. 25, 2011) (per curiam). Finding against the disloyal employee, the Court ordered him to pay his former employer the lost net profit on the contract it did not obtain because of his conduct.