Groupon Strikes Back Against Former Employees

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.

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