Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) subsidiary Ethicon is using “intricate legal gymnastics” to sidestep California’s restrictions on non-compete agreements, aiming to prevent its employees from hiring on with Intuitive Surgical (NSDQ:ISRG), the robot-assisted surgery company alleged last week in a lawsuit.
The Golden State’s “labor mobility” statutes mean that non-compete agreements are void. Ethicon sought to get around that by filing a lawsuit in an Ohio state court, seeking an injunction to prevent Intuitive from hiring 1 of its sales reps, Scott Szesterniak – even though Szesterniak lives and works solely in California, according to the lawsuit.
Shortly after he signed on last month with Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Intuitive as a clinical sales rep in Los Angeles, Szesterniak allegedly gave his notice at Ethicon and promised not to call on any of the sales contacts he’d had for the prior 18 months.
“During the interview and onboarding process, Intuitive admonished Mr. Szesterniak not to bring to Intuitive or use on Intuitive’s behalf any trade secret, confidential, or other information or material arguably belonging to Ethicon, and to instead return all such information and material to Ethicon. Mr. Szesterniak acknowledged that he understood Intuitive’s admonition, and certified his compliance with the foregoing,” according to the complaint.