A New York City judge has voided an employment agreement preventing a salon worker from offering her services to ex-clients for one year, viewing the covenant as overly restrictive. Shobha, a hair-removal salon, sought damages and enforcement of a restrictive covenant preventing Miranda Boci from offering her services for one year to any Shobha clients she worked with in the final 12 months of her employment. After almost three years of employment, Ms. Boci voluntarily resigned from Shobha in February 2009 and joined NYC Waxing. Shobha, which has several Manhattan locations, contends that Ms. Boci has performed services at NYC Waxing for 86 former clients within one year of leaving the salon.
Manhattan Civil Court Judge Margaret A. Chan ruled the covenant was "overly broad and unenforceable." Noting that courts have "generally frowned upon" covenants hindering a person's livelihood, she said some exceptions are the revelation of trade secrets or unique services. But that was not the case here, as there was no proof Ms. Boci's specialties were "unique and extraordinary." Nor did Ms. Boci have access to trade secrets, client lists or proprietary information. Instead, the judge said, it seemed clients decided to follow Ms. Boci due to their needs and her skill. As a result, the judge wrote in Eyes of the World v. Boci, 46549-2009, that "the covenant at bar is unreasonable in its limitation, burdensome to the employee, and not necessary to protect the employer's legitimate interests."