Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tips For Conducting An Interview

This video blog highlights a few things that small business owners or HR managers can do to ensure a successful interview process.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Broker Protocol is No Release from a Non-Compete Agreement 

Brian J. Sommer
Strict adherence to the Broker Protocol is not a complete shield from a lawsuit. This is because signatories to the Broker Protocol retain the right to bring raiding claims. Raiding is not, however, one particular claim. Rather, it is an umbrella term encompassing a number of claims including claims for breaches of non-compete agreements.

Historically, Courts have weighed a number of factors when determining whether or not to enforce a non-compete agreement, one of them being whether or not the non-compete agreement is reasonably necessary to protect the employer's legitimate business interests. In particular, courts assess an employee's access to confidential and proprietary information. Because such information gives a company its competitive advantage, courts will consider how an employee's knowledge of company information, such as corporate strategy, new technologies, or customer lists, may negatively impact the employer's business. 

Other factors historically weighed by Courts include whether there was consideration for the non-compete either in the form of a new job, or for existing employees, some additional payment, such as a bonus or stock options, and/or a promotion, and whether the non-compete agreement is reasonable in terms of length and geography in light of the employee's position as well as the nature of the employer's business. For example, a court might consider an agreement that prohibits a lead product engineer from working for a competitor within a 100 mile radius of the employer's office for two years to be reasonable, but a clause that prevents a receptionist from working for any competitor nationwide for 10 years is likely to be determined to be too restrictive.

In addition to these factors, more recently Courts have begun to consider the employee's specific circumstances and, in particular, the negative impact of enforcement will have on them as part of the deliberations. For example, courts may be less inclined to enforce a non-compete on a highly specialized, sixty (60) year old who is unlikely to be able to start anew in another industry or on employees who are the sole means of income for their family and thus have neither the time nor the money to wait out the agreement. 

Thus, before departing, it is best practice for advisors to review their employment agreements for language settling for any restrictions on where, when, and under what circumstances, they can work for a competitors. If such language is in their agreement, advisors would be wise to consult with a lawyer about enforceability against their event options, if any, the advisor has.

Separately, employers of financial advisors need to be mindful that Courts will consider a departing advisor's circumstances when deciding whether or not to enforce a non-compete agreement.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Meyer, Unkovic & Scott Welcomes Kathryn Angliss and Stephen Chesney

Kathryn Angliss Joins Meyer, Unkovic & Scott's Litigation and Dispute Resolution Group 

Kathryn L. Angliss
Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Angliss served as a Law Clerk to The Honorable Christine A. Ward in the Commerce and Complex Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County.

She earned her law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2011.  She also received the University of Pittsburgh School of Law Community Service Award.

While in law school, Ms. Angliss interned for The Honorable Lisa Pupo Lenihan (Western District of Pennsylvania).

She graduated with a B.A. from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California, in Political Science.  Prior to pursuing her legal education, Ms. Angliss worked in the Washington, D.C., office of Congresswoman Mary Bono and served as a Legislative Coordinator at the Edison Electric Institute.

To read her complete bio, click here.

Stephen Chesney Joins Meyer, Unkovic & Scott's Employment Law & Employee Benefits and the Construction Law & Litigation Groups

Stephen A. Chesney
Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Chesney worked in the construction industry as a member of the Heat and Frost Insulators Local Union #2. He served three terms as an executive board member and eight years as a Trustee for the Heat and Frost Insulators Local Union #2 Pension and Annuity Funds.

He received his B.S. in Communications and Information Technology, cum laude, from Duquesne University in 2009. In 2013, he received his J.D. from Duquesne University Law School.

To read his complete bio, click here.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Don't Fall For Records Scams

More Pennsylvania businesses are falling victim to a scam that preys on the desire of business owners to make sure their companies’ paperwork complies with the law. This Post-Gazette article by Jay Mangold, Jr., "Don't Fall for Records Scams", addresses how to identify and verify the legitimacy of questionable requests.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Creditors Can’t Consolidate Judgments In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania courts recently upheld their strict stance on not allowing creditors to consolidate debt judgments against spouses unless both signed the same agreement at the same time. You can read more in this Post-Gazette article by Frank Kosir, Jr., "No Consolidating Judgements".

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Compensation For Signing Non-Competes

Beth A. Slagle
Most employers ask some or all of their employees to sign non-compete agreements to prevent them from leveraging the knowledge and connections gained during the course of their employment to get a job with a competitor.

Although many employers may not realize it, Pennsylvania law dictates that employers always must offer employees some type of valuable compensation in exchange for signing a non-compete agreement. Without compensation, the company will be unable to enforce the agreement in Pennsylvania courts.

It's a common misconception that employers can get around the compensation rule by making sure that the non-compete agreement says that both employee and employer "intend to be legally bound" by the document.  The belief comes from Pennsylvania's Uniform Written Obligations Act (UWOA), which states that any contract is valid, even if no payment or other benefits have been exchanged, as long as the contract states that both parties intend to be legally bound by it.

But a recent ruling by the Pennsylvania Superior Court forcefully dispelled that misconception, making it clear that the rule to give employees compensation for signing non-compete agreements trumps the UWOA.

In the case, a company hired a salesman who had worked for it previously.  Upon accepting employment, the company asked him to sign a non-compete agreement that restricted him from working for a competitor for two years after leaving the company.  Later, the company asked the salesman to sign another agreement that further restricted him from working for competitors in several states, including Pennsylvania. The salesman was given no extra compensation or consideration for signing the non-compete agreement.

When the salesmen took a job with a competitor in Pennsylvania, his former employer threatened legal action against the new employer, which fired the salesman. The salesman then sued his former employer, claiming that his non-compete agreement was invalid because the company didn't compensate him for signing it.   The company argued that despite the lack of compensation, the contract was legally binding under the UWOA.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled in favor of the salesman, noting that non-compete agreements "have always been disfavored in Pennsylvania." The UWOA does not relieve employers of their obligation to compensate employees for signing non-compete agreements.  For new employees, the job itself is acceptable compensation.  But for existing employees, employers must offer some other benefit, such as a bonus or promotion.  Courts do not consider "continued employment" to be acceptable compensation.

The ruling serves as a warning to all employers of the difficulty of enforcing non-compete agreements in Pennsylvania.  Employers should review their non-compete agreements and administration policies to make sure that the agreements are enforceable in court.

For more information about non-compete agreements and other matters related to employment law, contact Beth Slagle at or 412-456-2890.

Beth Slagle has practiced law for more than 20 years and focuses her practice on business disputes and employment law. Beth's work has earned her a spot in Best Lawyers in America since 2010, and she is the chair of the firm's Insurance Coverage Litigation Group. She can be reached at or 412.456.2890. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Estate Planning & Financial Planning Update

Guest Speaker: 
Michele P. Conti, Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP
Karen Bostick, Mars National Advisors 

Please join Michele Conti and Karen Bostick for a program on estate planning and transitioning from working to living in retirement. Karen will talk about:

  • how to build assets;
  • what income is needed in retirement;
  • what reliable sources we have in place for income; and 
  • how to bridge the gap. 

Karen will provoke thoughtful conversation about retirement - how much we need, how much we have, and converting ownership of hard assets into income producing vehicles.

Michele will discuss the current law changes affecting your estate plan, the importance of Powers of Attorney, the difference between a Will and a Trust, and minimizing tax liability upon passing.

Guests and couples are encouraged to attend. Please register by calling 412.456.2818 or and request a reservation for the Estate & Financial Planning Update. Register early as space for this event is limited.

Date: Wednesday, June 18th
Time: 6:00 - 8:00 PM