Is it lawful for a company to hire one of its competitor’s employees? It may seems ludicrous to some to ask this question. But in a recent Texas appellate decision, the court actually considered whether a tortious interference with contract claim to be based upon Company A hiring an at-will employee from Company B.
The court held: “A claim of tortious interference cannot be premised merely on the hiring of an at-will employee, without more.” The court continued: “To hold Homeward liable for tortious interference for merely hiring Ally employees would `grind to a halt . . . the economy in the State of Texas.”
Economic growth depends to some extent upon the free flow of human capital. The court in this case reaffirmed the right of an at-will employee (unencumbered by a noncompete agreement) to move from one company to another. And the case goes a long way towards insulating the hiring company from legal liability. Obviously, if the defendant’s conduct had gone beyond merely hiring an at-will employee, the result might have been indifferent.