Can you bar an employee from working for a competitor?

With his son entering college and saddled with expensive dental work for his daughter, Instrument Repairman Grade I George Klein was strapped for funds. With this thought in mind, he found a second off-hours job with a competitor.

04/01/1999


With his son entering college and saddled with expensive dental work for his daughter, Instrument Repairman Grade I George Klein was strapped for funds. With this thought in mind, he found a second off-hours job with a competitor.

Things were beginning to look up when his boss, Maintenance Foreman Mike Skolnik, found out about the extra work.

"Sorry, George, I'm going to have to ask you to give it up."

"You gotta be kidding," Klein protested. "I need the extra dough."

"I have no choice. We can't have employees working for our competitors for obvious reasons."

"What obvious reasons?"

"Whether you intend to or not, you could divulge information damaging to the company about trade secrets, new designs, sales figures, job procedures."

"I would never do that."

"I know you wouldn't -- intentionally. But you have ears, right? And a mouth? In any case, a rule is a rule."

"It's a rule I knew nothing about."

"You know about it now. You have to choose between your part time job or this one."

"You know I can't quit this job."

Skolnik shrugged. "There's nothing I can do about it."

Klein refused to settle for that. He took off and returned minutes later with the shop steward in tow.

"You can't announce a rule like that without consulting the union."

When Skolnik disagreed, the steward threatened a grievance.

Question: Can management make the restriction stick?

Expert's opinion: When Skolnik told Plant Engineer Ben Grogan about the situation, Grogan picked up the telephone to get Alice Sheerer's opinion.

"Arbitrators don't always see eye to eye in situations like this," the attorney said. "I've seen cases where the company was permitted to prohibit off-hours work for a competitor, but the union had the right to challenge its reasonableness. In doing his job, would Klein be exposed to information damaging to the company, or be in a position to reveal company secrets?"

"Definitely," Grogan replied. "Especially when doing work in the lab."

"In that case," Sheerer said, "I would advise sticking to your guns and disallowing the extra work."





No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Learn how to create value with re-use; gain productivity with lean automation and connectivity, and optimize panel design and construction.
Go deep: Automation tackles offshore oil challenges; Ethernet advice; Wireless robotics; Product exclusives; Digital edition exclusives
Lost in the gray scale? How to get effective HMIs; Best practices: Integrate old and new wireless systems; Smart software, networks; Service provider certifications
Fixing PID: Part 2: Tweaking controller strategy; Machine safety networks; Salary survey and career advice; Smart I/O architecture; Product exclusives
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Look at the basics of industrial wireless technologies, wireless concepts, wireless standards, and wireless best practices with Daniel E. Capano of Diversified Technical Services Inc.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.