Half a million fine for the man who turned into a competitor

Compared to his gross monthly salary of 3,800 euros, the fine is very high, but according to the court, it was justified because the man seriously exceeded the limit. This is evidenced by a decision of the Amsterdam District Court published on Friday.

commercial companies

The man has been working since 2017 at Leiden trading company West Coast Supply, which was formed two years earlier after the division of the Van Caem Klerks Group (VCKG) business in Amsterdam. Both companies mainly trade in beverages, perfumes, and personal care items.

VCKG is owned by Quote500 entrepreneur Michelle Quieglars, separated from his former business partner, Robert Govermans.

Transformation

In the summer of 2020, the dealer in question from the West Coast switched to Van Keem, having already been preceded by his colleagues. When his old employer mistakenly received letters indicating that the man was approaching his old co-workers for a competitor, West Coast launched an investigation.

This showed that the man had indeed been active with the competitor, using business information from his previous employer. Then the West Coast first took Van Kyem’s case to court to demand an employment ban. Last year, the Amsterdam court actually enforced this.

Non-competition clause

But West Coast Supply was not satisfied with that. It also appears that the same merchant was brought to court by the Leiden Trading Company. According to his previous employer, the man was guilty of violating the non-competition, relationship and confidentiality clause of his employment contract.

Under this contract, according to West Coast Supply, the man will owe a maximum of one million euros in fines.

defense

The trader admitted to the Amsterdam District Court that he had turned to the competitor and exploited sensitive company information from his previous employer. In addition, he presented a laundry list of arguments for not paying fines.

For example, the provisions of the employment contract were incomprehensible and too strict. In addition, due to the early transfer of colleagues, it was assumed that he could also work with the competitor.

Provocation

He further noted that he worked for the competitor for only two and a half months, which limited the damage to his former employer. The man now works in a completely different kind of company.

He also stated that his previous employer himself was guilty of leaving, as he would have been “harassed, name-calling and intimidated”. Finally, he says, he has become a “game” in a longer and larger dispute between business owners.

Very tough

The Amsterdam District Court rules that some of the terms in the employment contract are too strict. For example, the judge reduced the terms of the no-competition and no-petition clause from three years to one year.

The judge was not affected by the rest of the defense. According to the judge, the man was already guilty of violating the non-competition, relationship and confidentiality clause.

half a million euros

Since his employment contract uses a maximum of 1 million euros and the judge has reduced the fines, the trader has to pay his former employer half a million euros in fine.

The dealer’s objection that the moderate fine was too high for his income was ignored. The District Court considers infractions so serious that a higher fine is appropriate. It also plays out that the man continued to work for the competitor for a while, even after discovering his key, under an assumed name and building his own business.

very sorry

“These violations are very serious and very responsible, because the employee was aware of the inadmissibility of his actions,” the district court judge said.

The district court also notes that Van Kym has promised to pay the fines to the man. If the company fulfills this promise, the employee can still escape unharmed.

The employee himself says he will refrain from commenting. “The situation has really taken a toll on me,” he told RTL Z. “I’d love to walk away from this discussion.” Company spokesman Dewey Kuipers said West Coast Supply will not respond to questions about the case.

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