When a biz reporter lost her job due a non-compete clause
Stephanie Russell-Kraft writes for Columbia Journalism Review about how she lost her job at Reuters because of a non-compete clause she had signed at her previous employer, Law360.
I know this because a non-compete I signed on my first day at legal news website Law360 in 2013 later derailed my career. After two years and a promotion at Law360, during which time colleagues left for a variety of competing publications, I accepted an offer in the fall of 2015 to join the Reuters legal news team covering the business of law. I considered the move to be a step up in my career. During my second week at the new job, a lawyer from Law360 wrote in a letter to the general counsel of Reuters that I was at risk of violating my non-compete and nondisclosure agreement. He asked that Reuters “take immediate steps to ensure” I did not use the “critical and sensitive proprietary information” I obtained at Law360. I never found out what Law360 meant by that: There’s no secret sauce to scouring court filings in search of a good story.
Reuters fired me two days later, citing my lack of disclosure of the non-compete. Today as a freelancer, I’m making about 40 percent less than my starting salary at Reuters, which included generous overtime and health insurance, among other benefits.
Law360 removed its non-compete provision from editorial employment contracts a year ago in a settlement with the New York Attorney General following an investigation into the potential illegality of the clauses. For me and other reporters who were blocked from taking new jobs, the move was welcome but too late.
Read more here.