Employment Law Attorneys
What Do Honey Bees and Bridgewater Associates Have in Common?

What Do Honey Bees and Bridgewater Associates Have in Common?

If you believe in the natural order of things in the environment, nature will take care of itself all on its own.   When mankind introduces unnatural externalities into the orderly flow of evolution, fundamental changes develop that alter the natural order in nature.  Take honey bees and Bridgewater Associates for example, each have been infected with a chemical or unnatural pathogen that is slowing destroying them; don’t mess with Mother Nature.

Honey Bees and Neonicotinoids

I raise honey bees at my home, caring for about 10 hives each year. Bees are a bewildering microcosm of chaos but in reality they are a highly efficient hierarchical system of organized labor supporting their beloved queen bee.  Honey bees function just fine left alone. They will raise their brood into worker and drone bees.  In this culture the females run the show and everything turns out sweet as honey. By the way Drone (male) bees serve only one limited purpose, to help the queen produce more bees.  There is no talking, complaining or rating systems among the employees, just a system of chemical pheromones and directional dances that make the hive hum and maintain an adequate balance sheet of honey food stores which my neighbors and I enjoy. Honey bees are born with a coded instinct to get along, just like employees (i.e. the golden rule).  Then enters MAN, who seeks to disrupt the natural order of bees with a new language and culture. To yield more crop production and make lawns green as the emerald isle of Ireland, man introduces chemicals that interfere with the language, culture and natural order of bees.  Please stop using pesticides on your lawn. Not only are pesticides slowing killing you, they are deadly to honey bees and other pollinators. No bees, no food, no you!  Learn a new vocabulary word- Neonicotinoids. Connecticut and the European Union is moving to completely ban this epidemic use of the chemical, which has been proven to cause colony collapse in bees.  I can personally attest that Neonicotinoids kill bees, I lost 20-30 hives in the past three years because my fellow citizens treat their lawns with this chemical.  I hope for a better future and continue to raise bees.

“Principles” Are Not Working at Bridgewater Associates

Then there is Bridgewater Associates, located less than three miles from my office. I am not saying the company ever used pesticides on employees, but maybe they used a psychosocial pathogen to infect their culture, aka “The Principles”.  The company and its founder have introduced an unnatural externality into the work place previously never seen in the working world.  With the introduction of a new language and culture, which I comically refer to as “Newspeak”*, the company’s founder Ray seeks to re-order the natural order of human interaction at work- impacting 1500 employees at its’ two campuses in Westport, Connecticut. The company’s Newspeak presumes we are weak and dysfunctional and we need to be fixed. Bridgewater Associate employees must reconcile themselves with the founder and leader “Ray”, who is on a self-promotional advertising campaign these days to compel future disciples to follow him on his legacy, to buy into the Principles.  When you force employees to hold ipads and rate one another during every human interaction (only the negatives and not the positives) something seems strangely unnatural. The employees must follow Ray because they have no choice. Either follow or exit the hive after two years or less with significant handcuffs related to confidentiality and noncompetition.  Employees are people, not machines processing big data. They have feelings, emotions, disabilities, and sometimes it is just OK to be vulnerable and weak.  Presumptively, employees seek out encouragement, optimism and uphold a personal desire to succeed in their careers.  Principles or Newspeak seeks to prey upon the weak and injured and suck dry any semblance of empathy and “Compassion”, a Buddhist concept (Bodhicitta or “enlightened mind”). Yet Ray wants to sell his brand of Principles to every corporation and we should all be concerned.
(*“Newspeak” was a phrase used repeatedly in George Orwell’s infamous novel 1984 and fully described in the Appendix to the novel. “Newspeak was the official language of Oceania and had been devised to meet the ideological needs of Ingsoc or English Socialism…The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought—that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc—should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words…For the purposes of everyday life it was no doubt necessary, or sometimes necessary, to reflect before speaking, but a Party member called upon to make a political or ethical judgment should be able to spray forth the correct opinions as automatically as a machine gun spraying forth bullets. His training fitted him to do this, the language gave him an almost foolproof instrument, and the texture of the words, with their harsh sound and a certain willful ugliness which was in accord with the spirit of Ingsoc, assisted the process still further.” Id.)
Contact Mark Carey at info@capclaw.com.

Say No To Noncompete Agreements At Work

If you have a noncompetition agreement, it is not enforceable. Employers use noncompetition agreements mainly as a deterrence. In reality, employers know they are not enforceable and the courts feel the same way.  People need to work and unless you are going to pay an employee not to compete, no court is going to enforce such an agreement.  In my practice, I continually represent employees who have noncompetition agreements attached to equity compensation awards, employment and severance agreements and contained in employee handbooks.  Employees never ask to receive a noncompetition agreement, but employers force employees to take the job and the noncompetition agreement together or leave it. Employees are never afforded any real opportunity to negotiate the agreement.

There are a few tactics to overcome noncompetition agreements.  First, these agreements, like any contract, require “consideration” such as “cash” or some other compensation to bind the agreement.  In many states, like Connecticut, if the employer provides the agreement on the first day of work, then there is adequate consideration for the noncompetition agreement. However, in Connecticut, if the employer provides the agreement two, four or even six months after the start of employment, then there is no consideration for the agreement and it is unenforceable; Connecticut courts have fashioned a rule that continuation of employment is not valid consideration to bind the parties to an agreement.
Another creative and unused method to destroy a noncompetition agreement is the use of a sworn affidavit that is prepared for the employee prior to starting a new job with a competitive company. The affidavit will state in essence that the employee will not use confidential proprietary information at his new employer and will not poach or solicit former clients or former coworkers.  The only remaining fact is the Employee so happens to work for a competitor.  The affidavit ensures the former employer is protected and prevents it from waging litigation against the former employee.  No court will issue a ruling forcing an employee from his or her employment when there is no demonstrated injury or potential injury to the former employer.  I recommend the employee deliver the affidavit to the former employer before starting the new position or upon receiving a cease and desist letter from the former employer.  This is a very inexpensive way to destroy the noncompetition agreement and prevent unnecessary litigation.
The final and more common method of destroying the noncompetition agreement is to demonstrate to a court at the start of litigation that the agreement is unenforceable because the time period is too long, or the geographic scope too large and/or that the employee is unable to earn a livelihood. Courts largely focus on the balance between the employee’s interest to earn a living against the employer’s interest to protect itself.  Courts side with employees and refuse to enforce noncompetition agreements during difficult economic periods, most likely because judges feel reluctant to bar employees from active employment.
If you would like more information, contact Mark Carey at 203-255-4150 or info@capclaw.com

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