THE ETHICAL DIMENSION Would an economic recession and global financial crisis excuse a former employee from having to comply with a noncompete clause that he or she had signed? Why or why not?
Bonnie Poux hired Andy Hernandez to sell organic produce for her sole proprietorship, Access Organics, Inc. Four months later, he was promoted to sales manager. Soon after, he signed a noncompete agreement in which he agreed “not to directly or indirectly compete with the business . . . for a period of two years following termination of employment.” Later, the business encountered financial difficulties. Hernandez left and went into business with another former employee to compete with Access Organics in the sale of produce in the same part of Montana. Poux then sued to enforce the noncompete agreement. The trial court found that Hernandez had violated the noncompete agreement and ordered him not to compete directly with Access Organics for the Copyright 2010 two-year period called for in the agreement. The court held that the agreement was valid because it was supported by consideration, which was continued employment at Access Organics at the time the agreement was signed. Hernandez appealed.