Inc Well | Small Business Advice for Chicago Entrepreneurs
A how-to blog for Chicago business

Groupon Strikes Back Against Former Employees



    Getty Images
    CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 10: The Groupon logo is displayed in the lobby of the company's international headquarters on June 10, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Groupon, a local e-commerce marketplace that connects merchants and consumers by offering goods and services at a discount, announced June 2 that it had filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of its Class A common stock. The company, launched in Chicago in November 2008 now markets products and services in 43 countries around the world. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

    Groupon's on the attack, and the timing can't be a coincidence.

    Before all this IPO business started overwhelming the headlines, you might have recalled hearing about the group-buying site's lawyers filing lawsuits against former employees who it says joined forced with rivals Google Inc., Gannett Co., and another who started her own deal site. And as Groupon's IPO continues to circle the drain (it's at $15.75 currently), it's clear these lawsuits, which are going forward, are meant to send a warning message to its current employees: we're not messing around.

    Crain's is reporting, though, that Groupon might have been a bit hasty in filing these lawsuits, which are the first of its kind for Andrew Mason's company.

    First off, these are lawsuits against lower-level sales reps, who, of course, probably can't afford to hire a lawyer and will roll over -- even though they might not have a leg to stand on anyway, if they signed the non-compete contract with Groupon.

    But more importantly, Nancy Wylie, a former employee in Cincinnati, told Crain's that she wound up not even working for a competitor because of that very contract: "She says she took a job with ThomasNet, a New York-based online directory of industrial companies such as manufacturers and suppliers." And so, Wylie reportedly spent $1,000 to hire an attorney to fight Groupon.

    Too bad Groupon doesn't offer deals on lawyers, huh? Oh wait, it does.