A legal recruiting firm has accused one of its former account executives of violating the firm's non-compete clause in their employment agreement.
The Arlington, Va.-based company The McCormick Group filed a suit against Ed Lee, founding principal of Whitehaven Strategies, in the Circuit Court for Arlington County on June 7. The firm is seeking damages of $100,000 and an injunction against Lee to enforce his employment agreement.
According to the complaint, Lee's employment agreement, which he signed when he started at McCormick in January 2006, does not allow him to "engage in competitive activities against The McCormick Group within his law and government affairs specialty field for twelve (12) months and restricts his ability to engage in competitive activities with a competing executive search firm within 100 miles of The McCormick Group's office for a period of six (6) months."
The firm claims that the limitations were a consideration when hiring Lee. On March 14, Lee resigned from McCormick to strike out on his own. The complaint said Lee subsequently solicited former clients he had worked with while at McCormick.
According to a news release on McCormick's website, Lee received the Account Executive of the Year Award from the firm in October. "Ed not only led the office for the year but established a new single year revenue record for the McCormick Group," the release said.
Representing McCormick are Tyson's Corner, Va.-based Venable partners William D. Dolan III and Michael Robinson. Neither Dolan nor Robinson responded to a request for comment.
Lee, who is representing himself, filed a motion to dismiss June 11. In it, Lee does not dispute the binding relevance of the non-compete clause, but instead points to two recent Virginia Supreme Court cases that outlawed overly broad non-compete clauses.
"While Plaintiff's wording is not exactly identical, the intent and plain language meanings are identical," Lee wrote in his motion. "Wherefore, in light of Plaintiff's non-compete clause having the exact intent and plain language meaning as those struck-down in Shaffer and Simmons, the Defendant respectfully requests the Court to sustain this demurrer and grant Defendant's motion to dismiss."
"It's an unfortunate lawsuit, one I believe is based on desire to stifle a new competitor," Lee said in a statement to Legal Times. "I've had to dust off my trial skills as a former Marine Corps JAG Captain and look forward to trial."