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What is poaching, and is it common in the entertainment industry?

Imagine for a moment an executive in the entertainment industry who makes hiring decisions regarding high-level employees. That person spends a lot of time, energy and creative thought in securing the best talent available to help drive business profits and success in an industry that is centrally marked by an intense competition among rivals.

How might he or she feel upon learning that a competitor has reached out to and is engaging in close conversation regarding new opportunities with a prized employee?

And what if that worker simply jumps ship prior to expiration of an existing employment agreement?

Is that legal? Can anything be done about it?

Here's the quick answer (which you likely knew would be cloaked in qualification): Maybe … but maybe not.

In the employment world, the term "poaching" relates to the efforts of business rivals to induce key workers to leave their current employment and transfer allegiances. It happens all the time, and is often simply viewed as a cost of doing business.

On some occasions, though, poaching can be illegal.

In a somewhat dated but still relevant news report on the subject, this logical query is posed: "When does poaching cross the line from healthy competition to tortious interference?

The first thing a proven entertainment law attorney will do in responding to that question is to closely peruse an existing employment agreement to see if there are restrictions applicable to walking away from a position and joining forces with a rival prior to contract termination.

As the case described in the above report well notes, the matter can get complicated. The poaching lawsuit filed by 21st Century Fox against Netflix, Inc., last year is still ongoing.

In a California poaching case, timing can be everything, given that noncompete agreements slated to take effect following a contract term are viewed as illegal employment restraints under state law.

When a contract term is still in play, though, questions surrounding poaching can be far more nuanced and complicated.

Questions or concerns regarding poaching in the entertainment industry can be directed to an experienced entertainment law firm that routinely represents diverse clientele across a wide universe of matters in that singular work realm.

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