Trunk Club Sued in Illinois Over No-Compete Clause

CHICAGO (CN) – A former personal stylist for Trunk Club claims in a class action that the company’s practice of forcing entry level employees to sign a no-compete agreement is not binding.

Named plaintiff Molly Dowell filed the class action against Trunk Club in Cook County Chancery Court on Thursday.

Chicago-based Trunk Club, a Nordstrom Company, is a personalized mid- to high-end men’s and women’s clothing service. According to its website, Trunk Club’s personal stylists go through extensive training and have hands-on experience to know which colors, sizes, styles, and brands will look and fit best on each customer.

In an emailed statement, Trunk Club said it “is aware of the suit and plans to vigorously defend this matter.”

Dowell claims in the lawsuit that Truck Club’s no-compete agreements with entry-level employees do not stand up to Illinois’ Freedom to Work Act, which makes it illegal to force low-level employees – defined as employees making less than $13 an hour – into no-compete agreements.

“Trunk Club requires its entry-level employees to sign an employment agreement with a covenant not to compete that prohibits them from accepting employment for one year from any company that competes, in any way, with Trunk Club or its parent company Nordstrom,” the complaint states. “Trunk Club’s covenant not to compete includes no geographic restriction. Trunk Club provides no consideration and no guarantee of continued employment for any length of time in exchange for the covenant not to compete, making the covenant not to compete invalid and unenforceable under Illinois law.”

Dowell claims the no-compete agreement effectively prevents employees from any further work in the retail industry or from leaving Trunk Club to seek better opportunities.

“Trunk Club’s only motivation for requiring and enforcing its broad and unreasonable covenant not to compete is to suppress wages, prevent employees from leaving and restrain competition in the retail labor market,” the complaint states.

Dowell claims she worked for Trunk Club as a personal stylist from June 6, 2016 to Jan. 10, 2017, and was paid $33,000 a year plus sales commissions. She said she left the company after becoming worried about its future, but has been blocked from other professional retail opportunities due to the no-compete agreement.

The class consists of all current and former at-will employees of Trunk Club who are Illinois residents and subject to a covenant not to compete with Trunk Club.

Aside from injunctive and declaratory relief of the no-compete agreement, Dowell seeks punitive damages for antitrust violations and interference with prospective economic advantage. Dowell is represented by Anthony Dowell.

 

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