In an unusual move for a newspaper, the recently sold San Diego Union-Tribune is requiring employees to sign a confidentiality agreement forbidding them from wooing current or former co-workers to a competitor.
The agreement appears to put a crimp in any employee’s plans to create or join a rival company — such as an online news site — and bring recent colleagues on board, even those without jobs.
The president of the newspaper industry’s leading labor union said he’s never seen such an “outrageous” restriction before, and a local professor said it will have a “chilling effect” on those who want to start competing businesses.
A U-T spokesman declined to comment.
Unlike other states, California doesn’t allow companies to prevent their employees from working for competitors. But the state does permit “non-solicitation” clauses like the one in the U-T agreement, said Ruben Garcia, an associate professor at California Western School of Law.
The two-page confidentiality agreement states: “I shall not solicit directly or indirectly, any person who is a SDUT employee or who has been employed by SDUT within the prior six (6) months for employment by, or any business relationship with, a competitor.”