A POPULAR Port Elizabeth beauty salon has successfully applied for an interdict against a former employee after claiming she had attempted to poach several clients after opening her own salon.
Win Tassan, owner of Beautiful You Health and Beauty Clinic in Heugh Road, Walmer, said she had been compelled to file the application after being informed by several clients that a former employee, Leanne Moolman, had contacted them about plans to open her own salon, Harmony Health.
The Port Elizabeth High Court has now ordered Moolman be interdicted and restrained from involvement in a business which is in competition to Beautiful You for a period of six months within a 50km radius.
Moolman had entered into a contract with Beautiful You in December 2011 after graduating as a beauty therapist. A restraint of trade clause had formed part of this contract which protects a firm or business from any former employee starting their own business in direct competition with it.
“It is very important to have a restraint of trade clause. Things must be done in an honest and upright manner,” Tassan said yesterday.
“It is the clients’ choice who they want to go to and if they ask for a therapist who has moved away we normally tell them where to find her. The difference here is that several clients had called us to tell us what she was doing.”
In his judgment, Acting Judge Thembekile Malusi described the industry as “highly competitive” and also ordered Moolman to surrender all confidential information relating to Beautiful You’s business, including e-mail addresses and phone numbers of its clients.
Moolman has also been ordered to pay the costs of the application. Beautiful You lodged the court application to enforce the restraint of trade agreement after Moolman had resigned from the salon on February 4.
When she resigned, Moolman had indicated she would be opening her own salon and said her reasons for resigning had been a poor salary and erratic commission payments. But the salon had then been informed by a long-standing customer that Moolman had offered her treatment at her own salon.
In his judgment Malusi said on February 5 Tassan had discovered that Moolman had set up a Facebook page advertising her recently opened salon and the page had been opened on January 31. “On February 10 the applicant’s attorney wrote to the respondent demanding she desists from violating the restraint of trade.”
But Moolman’s attorneys had replied that the clause was aimed solely at eliminating competition and that it did not identify a legally recognised interest worthy of protection.
Malusi said Moolman had admitted to contacting clients but claimed this occurred while she was still in the employment of Beautiful You.
“The applicant does not have to rely on an undertaking by the respondent not to contact its customers when it has a valid agreement,” he said.
But Malusi altered the restriction on Moolman of 12 months to six months.
Attempts to contact Moolman were unsuccessful.