Heselmeyer Zinda, PLLC, a business law firm with offices in Austin and Dallas, handles business tort cases.
The idea of wrongful interference, or tortious interference within a business relationship, is a practice area of Heselmeyer Zinda, PLLC, a Texas-based law firm with offices in Austin, Round Rock and Dallas. The theory of the tort has little, or nothing to do with the popular conception of the word, except perhaps in a figurative sense. According to D. Scott Heselmeyer, what it means, basically, “is meddling, as it applies to business law. A line must be drawn in the sand, so that no one may intentionally intermeddle with the business affairs of others.” The key is “intentionally,” as situations may arise which are inadvertent or “accidental.” An example of tortious interference “might be a deliberate attempt to get employees to leave their present employment and migrate to a competitor, or even to a non-competing firm that desires the skill sets they’re seeking to obtain,” Heselmeyer explains. It’s a bit similar to the War of 1812, when British frigates sought to kidnap American sailors and “impress” them into the British Navy, akin to an act of piracy on the high seas. Somewhat similarly, to “impress” employees to leave their current employment in an act of “tortious or wrongful interference” and take work with another is unlawful.
Tortious interference can also become more complicated – when the objective is not so much to obtain the workers, but to cause harm to the company they’re working for. “Sometimes enticement occurs,” Heselmeyer clarifies, “and in those cases the objective may be different. A more malicious instance of tortious interference may have as its endpoint to cripple or destroy the employer, typically a competitor.”
Another twist of tort is when unlawful inducement becomes associated with untruthful means, or when employees are seduced to commit wrongs against their employer in the manner of disclosing proprietary information.
It is not unlawful merely for someone to hire away someone else’s employee, for instance, by offering to provide better compensation. “This is true no matter how much the loss of that particular employee might inconvenience his former employer,” Heselmeyer explains, “Our society is based on principles of free enterprise, and a business proprietor has no legal right to complain, or avenue of redress, if the base of his complaint merely results from lawful competition.”