Legal

Apple Bitten for Worker Fired by Another Company

By Mark Kobata, Marty Denis

Oct. 27, 2016

Dan Popescu sued Apple Inc. for damages after he was fired by his employer, Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood LLC. Popescu claimed that Apple wrongfully induced his former employer, Constellium, to terminate his employment. He brought claims against Apple for intentional interference with contractual relations and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage.WF_1016_LEGAL_LegalBrf2_AppleImg_302

Apple demurred to Popescu’s complaint, arguing that Popescu’s claim for intentional interference with contractual relations failed as a matter of law because Popescu was an “at will” employee, and that Popescu’s claim for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage failed because he could not show that the alleged interference was wrongful. The trial court granted Apple’s demurrer without leave to amend, and Popescu appealed.

The California Court of Appeal reversed the grant of the demurrer, finding that an “at will” employee could bring a claim for intentional interference with contractual relations. The Court of Appeal further held that Popescu had sufficiently alleged wrongdoing on Apple’s part to support a claim for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. Apple’s allegedly anticompetitive conduct was sufficient to support the claim. Popescu v. Apple Inc., No. 040508 (July 1, 2016).

Impact: Popescu v. Apple Inc. confirms that a company can potentially be liable if it acts to secure the termination of employment of an employee at a separate company. A company can find itself on the hook for a third party’s decision to wrongfully terminate an employee if the employee can offer evidence that the company influenced the third party to make its termination decision. Companies must therefore take great care in providing feedback regarding the performance of third party employees.

Mark T. Kobata and Marty Denis are partners at the law firm Barlow, Kobata and Denis, which has offices in Beverly Hills, California, and Chicago. Comment below, or email editors@workforce.com.

Mark Kobata and Marty Denis are partners at the law firm Barlow, Kobata and Denis, which has offices in Beverly Hills, California, and Chicago.

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