So I’m getting my haircut today. Which got me thinking about writing this post. I’ve heard from reliable sources that hair salons and spas routinely ask their employees to sign non-compete agreements. While I’ve not actually seen one, I’ve heard that they typically seek to block to employee from working within so many miles from the establishment for about a year. They may actually be worse. I’ve even heard that some places have agreed amongst themselves to not hire away the other’s stylist.
Man, that’s gotta suck. Imagine starting a new job and being “forced” to sign a contract agreeing not to work in your chosen field should you decide to leave (or have it decided for you). Sure, I can see the salon’s point of view. They believe that their customers are their’s. Not the stylist. And if the stylists go about trying to steal customers just before or immediately after they leave, then the salon has a legitimate beef.
But what if the stylist simply wants to leave for a better opportunity? And that stylist leaves without soliciting the salon’s customers. Shouldn’t they be free to work where they want? Depending upon the facts and the way the non-compete is written, maybe they can. That is, perhaps the non-compete is not enforceable. The problem for stylist is, who wants to spend money to go to trial and find out. And that’s what the salons are hoping for. At least, that’s what I surmise.
On a sidenote, I think the proliferation of Salon Lofts throughout the city is great for the business minded stylist. Salon Lofts doesn’t hire stylist. They rent out space to stylists. I heard it’s on the order of $200-$400 per week. Which may seem like alot, but consider that the stylist don’t have to find their own space, equipment and employees. Also, if they’re pretty booked throughout the day, and can command fees comparable to the high end shops, then they’re making some pretty decent cash.
Off sidenote now, here’s what the Ohio Supreme Court has to say about non-compete agreements:
We hold that a covenant not to compete which imposes unreasonable restrictions upon an employee will be enforced to the extent necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate interests. A covenant restraining an employee from competing with his former employer upon termination of employment is reasonable if it is no greater than is required for the protection of the employer, does not impose undue hardship on the employee, and is not injurious to the public. Courts are empowered to modify or amend employment agreements to achieve such results. Raimonde v. VanVlerah (1975), 42 Ohio St.2d 21, 325 N.E.2d 544.
With respect to whether a non-compete is reasonable, the court in Busch v. Premier Integrated Med. Assocs., Ltd. (PDF) (September 5, 2003), 2003 Ohio App. LEXIS 4255, 2003 Ohio 4709, stated the following:
We have held that factors to be considered in determining reasonableness of the restrictions a covenant imposes include[:]
(1) the existence of time and geographic limitations;
(2) whether the employee represents the sole contact with the customer;
(3) whether the employee possesses confidential information or trade secrets;
(4) whether the covenant seeks to eliminate competition which would be unfair to the employer or merely seeks to eliminate ordinary competition;
(5) whether the covenant seeks to stifle the inherent skill and experience of the employee;
(6) whether the benefit to the employer is disproportional to the detriment to the employee;
(7) whether the covenant operates as a bar to the employee’s sole means of support;
(8) whether the employee’s talent which the employer seeks to restrict was actually developed during the period of employment; and
(9) whether the forbidden employment is merely incidental to the main employment.
DISCLAIMER: The above does not constitute legal advise. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney.