Dance Articles > Teacher breaks chain's no-compete, lands in jail

Discussion in 'Dance Articles' started by Throwaway Overshare, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I doubt that...b/c if one doesn't act ethically WRT the law and other studios, what would make a student feel confident that they would be treated with higher regard?
     
  2. Throwaway Overshare

    Throwaway Overshare New Member

    Perhaps, but it's not a criminal case.

    It's only a case because the other party still feels they have something to gain from showing the world how childish they can be.

    Students are not property, we are people and we can make our own decisions.
     
  3. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    And if you truly claim to be an adult your word should be good and you should honor contract you sign.

    As has been mtnioned, with Plano's location, there are more than enough places you can teach in DFW metroplex andd still abide by the 25mile rule that the teacher CHOSE to agree to.
     
  4. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    dunno...depends on what was signed...and admittedly I have yet to read it...but one of the things that I really respect about NP was that when I first called him, his first question was about what happened and how the transition would be viewed by my FP and any studios involved... as a professional courtesy...

    I think if one has signed a clause and then operates without regard to it and then goes a step further as to solicit out of the pre-existing studio...that is problematic... different from students inquiring and following on their own...beyond that, once the court has laid the smack down, defying the court is it's own issue...and one does that at their own peril
     
  5. Throwaway Overshare

    Throwaway Overshare New Member

    Next time you get a boilerplate contract, change something trivial and hand it back. See how practical your idea is. Chances are the person who could approve or disapprove your changes isn't even there. Better yet, try it the next time your computer pops up something you have to agree to - try changing that.

    The world is full of "contracts" with terms that are widely known to be unenforceable, but act instead simply to intimidate the uninformed.
     
  6. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    I went through almost a month of negotiations before I took this job, and that was just coming back to a position I previously held.

    Whether it's easy or not to change it, if you sign your name to that piece of paper, you've made a commitment. If it can't be changed and you can't live with it, move on. if you sign in, have the integrity to back up your name.
     
  7. Throwaway Overshare

    Throwaway Overshare New Member

    If you exist in our modern world, you have signed contracts with unenforceable, outrageously unreasonable terms that you haven't the slightest intention of living up to. Do you have a credit card? Drive a car? Own a computer? Have a mortgage or a lease? A bank account? Most of the time you won't need to worry about those, but notice how every once in a while you get a fifty cent credit as a result of a class action over some contract term found invalid.

    The world is full of fine print, some of which is valid and some of which is there just to intimidate. Unfortunately, figuring out which is which requires expertise and expensive legal proceedings.
     
  8. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    I have always dealt with expectations of possibly facing legal consequences for various actions, b ut I go into it knowingly and accept it may happen. "Choose whatever laws you need to live with. I will follow the ones I agree with, and break those that I don't", to paraphrase. But I do it fully knowingly. If you choose to sign a contract and not know possible consequences, that's your choice. I choose not to, up to and including reading EULAs on software before I click agree. Don't claim I live up to everything, do accept responsibility for what I agree to though, whether I'm happy about it or not.
     
  9. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    Oh, and for those wondering, that's paraphrasing the character Professor Bernardo De La Paz, and his view on rational anarchy (term I've only heard in that book), and his views on laws that new country being born on Luna (the moon) chose for themselves, in the book 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress', by Robert A. Heinlein. One of my favorite books by my favorite author.
     
  10. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    If a judge issues an order later determined to be illegal, and you are arrested based on that order, are you able to sue the judge?
     
  11. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    good question...must go investigate
     
  12. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    (Internet lawywer-wannabe-speak follows; use at your own risk. ;))

    I'm guessing that the answer is "no" in most cases. Judges get overturned by higher courts all the time. Most states indemnify government officers and employees against lawsuits resulting from actions they take as part of their official duties. A judge who is out of line may be censured by the state's judiciary branch, or by the state bar if the judge holds a law license. Judges can be impeached, but usually only for criminal acts while in office (it varies depending on the state constitution). Federal judges can be impeached by Congress, although I don't believe it's happened since the 1980s. There are a few states who have made it a crime for state employees to blatantly abuse their status, but I'm not aware of any such law being applied to a judge.
     
  13. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    Cornutt covered it, to my knowledge.
     
  14. nucat78

    nucat78 Active Member

    I suspect not, but I'll ask my newly minted lawyer son.
     
  15. pruthe

    pruthe Member

    I've been following this thread and I guess at this point I have some mixed feelings about the non-compete agreement for teachers at dance studios. I live in a mid-sized city and would guess there are at least a dozen ballroom studios in the area. I would say they are all within a 25 mile radius of the city. The next big city is probably 60-100 miles away. My experience with chain schools (and independents) is they hire a lot of young people who would probably sign anything in order to have opportunity to teach dance and are not thinking much about any possible future consequences. (Kind of like the easy mortgages that we are hearing about lately that people sign and later regret doing so.) Anyway, maybe the young person works for a year and decides to move on for whatever reason. Then they find out they better not work for any other studio in a 25 mile area or they, or the potential receiving studio will be sued. The only studio that I've heard in our area that does this is part of chain previously identified. My studio doesn't do this. Now I can understand not allowing a former teacher to solicit previous students still at original studio. But to disallow that person from teaching dance unless they move completely out of the area doesn't seem right. Sure, the teacher may have received some training while at original studio, but I have my doubts that much of it was from a world class dancer. Probably more like from a video tape and some weekly training sessions from in-house teacher. And yes, people should understand what they are signing and obey the law. But I think sometimes people can easily be taken advantage of and it comes back to haunt them later.
     
  16. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    When I was ready to leave my job at Bell Labs, I invested in an hour of a laywer's time to get the straight answer to the question of pre-employment agreements. (In my case, it had to do with recouping of moving expenses -- I had relocated to take the job.) The attorney asked me when I had first seen the employment agreement. "When I showed up for my first day at work", I told him. I had actually tried to negotiate a couple of things in it, but the HR person had told me "You can't go to work until you sign that. Take it or leave it."

    The lawyer told me not to worry about it. He said that, in order for a pre-employment agreement to have any chance of being enforceable (in NJ, at least), it has to be presented at the time the job offer is made, or sooner. If they wait until you show up for work, then in the court's view a "meeting of the minds" has not occurred and the agreement is not enforceable. I left the job and left NJ and never heard any more about it.

    EDIT: I'll add that when I first got into engineering, it was still common in the field that you had to sign an employment agreement stating that if you left the company, no matter what the circumstances, you would not work anywhere else in your field for two years. I asked my dad about it, and he said that those agreements were widely regarded as a joke. The last time I heard of any company still requiring that kind of thing was around 1990.
     
  17. pruthe

    pruthe Member

    I also worked for Bell Labs and later Lucent (out of Bell Labs). I remember signing the agreement, but I wanted the job so bad, I signed it no questions. Took an early retirement and didn't have to worry about the agreement anymore.
     
  18. suburbaknght

    suburbaknght Well-Known Member

    I can dig out my copy of the standard [Chain] employment agreement, but let me hit a few highlights:

    - There is a promise to work for the studio for a period of one year from the day your training starts.
    - There is a non-compete clause that starts two years after you leave and extends up to twenty-five miles or the same metropolitan area, whichever is greater.
    - There is a prohibition against deliberately soliciting current or previous [Chain] students indefinitely.
    - There is a promise for restitution up to the amount invested in your training if any of the above are violated.

    When I accepted my position with [Chain] I had been warned by a lot of people about the dangers of working for them and so I was very careful to read the employment agreement in advance (they gave me a copy to take home during my initial interview). There was legalese, of course, and it probably took me about an hour to make my way completely through the two-page contract and feel like I understood everything, but nothing was obscured. I went into that job full-well knowing the costs, and now that I'm leaving I'm glad that I spent that time reviewing the contract beforehand. That man should have done the same.

    I know Claudia and Zach and I know how much they care about their instructors; I can't imagine them trying to pull a fast one on, well, anyone. I also know several Arthur Murray Franchisees who have deliberately not enforced the non-compete clauses when former instructors began teaching within the Forbidden Zone as long as they did not solicit Arthur Murray students.

    There's nothing wrong with wanting to teach dance. There's nothing wrong with wanting a better wage than most chains will pay you. But there is something wrong with trying to weasel your way out of the deals you make to be a teacher, then spitting in the face of the legal system that holds you to those deals.
     
  19. nucat78

    nucat78 Active Member

    :confused: As in Dallas-Ft Worth? That's a mighty big metro area as is Chicago, LA, NYC... I trust that's defined explicitly somewhere in the contract.
     
  20. pruthe

    pruthe Member

    I do not know about the specific situation you identified. It may well be justified. Its good that you were warned about agreement and researched out its implications. I do know about a situation with a studio in my area in which a young person and studio she got a job with was sued. I don't think she was soliciting prior students. It ultimately cost the studio thousands of dollars in legal costs and the young person left. That didn't seem right to me, but life sometimes isn't fair.
     

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