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This question is about Tortuous Interference with Business Expectancy relative to a nocompete and breach of employment contract

Littleton, CO |

I am a Nurse Practitioner. I signed an nocompete agreement contained within an employment offer letter. The Doctor breached the employment letter by failing to pay the agreed upon wages. After making a formal demand for those wages under Colorado Wage laws, I was terminated. Now, I want to start my own practice and believe that the nocompete agreement is void and not enforceable as a consequence of breach by the Doctor. I am filing suit for breach, unpaid wages, wrongful termination, unjust enrichment and defamation.

My question is - The Doctor is now attempting to interfere with my ability to pursue this new business opportunity through the void noncompete clause. Is this Tortuous Interference or some other type of claim?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. The doctors claim (NCA) may be valid. An attorney would need to read it. Your claim may (or may not) be valid. The court will decide both issues- until then, they are just litigant positions. Do NOT attempt to handle this matter yourself-- its outside your swim lane. Consult with a local employment attorney ASAP. Best of luck to you.

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  2. No, this is not tortious interference under your facts. It is a contract claim. Your claim that nonpayment suddenly voids the noncompete is incorrect. The employment terms and payment are a separate covenant from the noncompete and that could still be valid. It could also be invalid. It requires review of the agreement and other facts.

    I very strongly recommend that you speak with an attorney before you file suit because filing baseless and poorly structured claims is a quick way to lose on summary judgment. If you cannot afford an attorney for a full representation than at least run your complaint by an attorney before you file. That is money well spent.

    This answer is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice regarding your question and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

  3. First, I'm sorry to hear of your circumstance. I'm certain it is frustrating and the sooner you can dispense with it the better. As noted by the other respondents, however, you are mixing different concepts and different causes of action and proceeding along the lines that you have suggested to be your strategy is not likely to help you resolve this situation as expeditiously as you would like. For example, you state that you served as Nurse Practitioner with a doctor whom you state breached the agreement by failing to pay you. That is a contract dispute -- not an employment dispute. That means your right of recover arises out of your ability to demonstrate (likely through a threatened civil court action) that the doctor in fact breached the terms of the agreement. Of course without reviewing the agreement, no attorney can provide you qualified assistance or counsel. There may be other terms that the doctor violated and whether the non compete is even a valid/enforceable term within the contract requires review in order to comment. As you were an independent contractor -- you were by definition not an employee. That said, depending on any number of facts, there may be basis for asserting that you were in fact an employee and that the doctor misclassified you as a contractor. This could open the door to some of the arguments you are wanting to assert as it relates to payment of back "wages" and application of the Colorado Wage laws (which do not apply to contractors).

    You would be wise to seek the assistance of counsel before you proceed much further. I wish you luck.

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