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Dear Netflix: Did I Miss a Memo About EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS? (caps intended)

I wish I had a easy way to play audio when you opened posts, because if I did, you'd get the "liberal media' sound bite with this post.

"Liberal Media."  Probably more the point, "Liberal People on Social Media."

The topic of this one is pretty simple. There's a difference between non-compete clauses for at-will Netflix-fox-logos-780x439 employees and non-competes that are provisions in full-fledged Employment Contracts.  People don't seem to get that, especially when they're waxing poetic on social media.

Here's the set up from Fortune:

"A nasty spat between 21st Century Fox and Netflix over employee poaching took a new twist on Wednesday, as the streaming giant filed a counter-lawsuit that accuses the studio of using illegal non-compete clauses and creating “involuntary servitude” among workers.

The allegations, filed in Los Angeles state court, come one month after Fox sued Netflix for poaching two of its program development executives.

According to Netflix, the studio violates California law by using clauses in its employment contract that bar them from working for competitors, and by reserving the right to extend these contracts indefinitely.

A spokesperson for Fox challenged the Netflix claims and claimed the contracts are legal.

“As Netflix expressly acknowledges, California law fully recognizes that fixed-term employment agreements are valid and enforceable,” said the spokesperson in an email statement. “These employment contracts are sought by many employees in the media industry because they guarantee tangible benefits. We look forward to vindicating our rights in Court.”

That's a pretty factual account.  Fox sued Netflix for poaching it's execs and Netflix went on the offensive and started talking about illegal non-compete clauses and creating “involuntary servitude” among workers.  The story got shared, with a lot of the folks in my social networks waxing poetic about how non-compete clauses are bad and Fox was wrong.

I mean, damn...

They're either ignoring or missed the fact that these executives aren't like normal people who signed non-competes and remained at-will employees. The executives in question from Fox had full employment contracts, which guaranteed them compensation for long periods of time if Fox decided to let them go.

This is why we can't have nice things. People take liberal and conservative stances without reading the articles that are shared via social.  If you saw non-complete and ranted without understanding there was an employment contract involved and now get it, that's cool.  We're good.  If you're still of the opinion that non-competes are invalid even when employment contracts holding huge payouts for separations are involved..  well, I don't even know what to do with you.

Netflix poached the execs. They read the employment contracts and thought they could beat them in California. Of special interest is the reference they make to Fox "reserving the right to extend those contracts indefinitely", which sounds like an evergreen feature that would allow a judge to void the employment contract based on the fact there wasn't a fixed term.

Those are technical details, and if Fox overreached with that, the employment contract might get overturned.  

But if you think non-completes as part of employment contracts with payouts for termination aren't valid...I don't even know who you are anymore...


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