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Breach of contract and non-compete lawsuit filed

Ohio is generally an "at will" state when it comes to the terms of employment. Federal and state laws prohibit employers from engaging in discriminatory practices in the workplace. Public policy matters also can protect workers from wrongful termination, in spite of the general rule that Ohio is an "at will" state in terms of employment. Many Ohio workers, however, enter into employment contract agreements.

Executive compensation agreements and severance agreements are common in Ohio. Many industries and professionals rely on employment contracts to define duties and obligations in the workplace. A contract is at the heart of a lawsuit filed last week by a long-time television meteorologist down South who was recently terminated shortly after signing a new employment contract.

The meteorologist worked for the Southern television station since 1989. In September, 2010, the 55-year-old man and his employer entered into a contract extension that was set to last until February, 2014. In March, the television chief meteorologist was abruptly terminated.

Last week, the man filed a lawsuit against the company and the general manager of the station where he worked claiming breach of contract. The lawsuit also seeks to challenge a non-compete clause in the contract. The non-compete agreement reportedly bars the man from working for a competitor for one-year beyond the end of the contract. The man says the non-compete clause is overly burdensome in his lawsuit. The man says in his suit, the abrupt termination and the non-compete clause effectively end his career as a meteorologist.

The former chief meteorologist seeks damages for breach of contract, based upon his termination several months after entering into a roughly four year extension. The weatherman also challenges the vagueness of the non-compete clause. The clause extends for one-year, but the meteorologist says he does not know what starts the clock ticking. If the agreement extends from the end of the contract, the man says the agreement effectively ends his career.

Source: Columbus Ledger-Examiner, "Former weatherman Kurt Schmitz files lawsuit against WTVM for breach of contract," Jim Mustian 24 Jun 2011

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