A case out of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (of which, Connecticut is part of) addresses an interesting question:

When a jury  finds that sexual harassment has been perpetuated by a single employee, is injunctive (non-monetary) relief required to be issued by the District Court?

The EEOC argued yes and argued that remedies such as preventing the harassing employee from returning to the workplace were appropriate. 

Um, there’s a problem in Aisle 3.

The Second Circuit agreed in part, saying that ordinarily a termination of a lone harasser should be enough. But the court said that given the egrigious facts of this particular case, something more should’ve been done to protect the female employees from potential future harassment.

The case, EEOC v. KarenKim, Inc. (d/b/a Paul’s Big M Grocery), can be downloaded here. 

There’s a lot of facts to the case, but this summary, by the Outten & Golden Employment Law Blog, captures some of the salient points:

KarenKim is a grocery store whose employees largely consist of teenage female employees. The company is owned and managed by Karen Connors. In 2001, she hired Allen Manwaring as the store manager. In 2006, Connors and Manwaring became romantically involved and had a son together.

At trial, a number of current and former employees testified about Manwaring’s sexual harassment of the female employees, which consisted of verbal and physical harassment. Some of his verbal comments included making comments of a sexual nature to employees and compliments about parts of their body. He told one employee that if he was her boyfriend, he would never “let her out of his sheets” and that “if he was 10 years younger, he would be on top of her.” He also physically harassed the women by touching and massaging them in inappropriate ways and on a daily basis. He would brush up against them to deliberately touch their breasts, put his crotch against their buttocks, breath on their necks, hug them, and squeeze their hips.

Oy.

Continue Reading What Remedy Is Appropriate When a Jury Concludes Sexual Harassment Occurred?

Suppose a former employee has breached your company’s covenant not to compete after she left employment.  Are you, the employer, entitled to get the non-compete period extended as a remedy for the breach?

Great question. And one that differs depending on the state.

A federal court in Connecticut (Aladdin Capital Holdings, LLC v. Donoyan) looked at the different paths that various state courts use to analyze the issue. In a decision released last week, it found:

  • First, some courts have reasoned that a court has broad and inherent power to extend the duration of a restrictive covenant as an equitable remedy for breach.
  • Second, some courts have suggested that the duration of a restrictive covenant may only be extended as a remedy for breach if the parties included language in their restrictive covenant contemplating such a remedy.
  • Third, some courts have reasoned that the contractually-specified duration of a restrictive covenant may never be extended by a court as a remedy for breach.
The Federal Courthouse in New Haven

So, what’s the proper result in Connecticut?

Well, in this case, the court rejected the employer’s argument for an extension. In doing so, it concluded that the ending of the restrictive covenant time period ends the matter.  In fact, the court concluded “The Court finds no evidence that the Connecticut Supreme Court would follow the decisions of other states’ high courts that have held that trial courts have broad equitable power to extend even an expired restrictive covenant as a remedy for breach.”

But all is not hope for employers in Connecticut.  The court did suggest that the result might be different if  “the restrictive covenant contains language that expressly permits extension of the restrictive covenant.”  In that type of situation, the court might then possess the power to extend the duration of the non-compete.

What’s the Takeaway for Employers?

If you use non-compete agreements or other types of restrictive covenants, consider adding a provision that expressly permits an extension of the restrictive covenant if the employee breaches the agreement.  That way, you may have an additional type of remedy besides seeking monetary damages.

In addition, employers may want to review their existing agreements to see if that language is present and consider amending them at an appropriate time to add this provision if necessary.