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Amazon sues to block an executive from joining Target

March 22, 2016 03:47 PM
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Amazon.com Inc. isn’t letting its former vice president of operations go to Target Corp. without putting up a fight.

Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, on Monday filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court seeking to prevent Arthur Valdez from joining Target (No. 16) as its executive vice president and chief supply chain and logistics officer. Target announced Valdez’s hire Feb. 29, and he was set to start work March 28.

Amazon claims Valdez “reaffirmed Amazon’s Confidentiality, Noncompetition and Invention Assignment Agreement” on June 18, 2012. The signed agreement, included in Amazon’s filing, states that Valdez is prohibited from working for a competitor for 18 months after leaving Amazon. Valdez told Amazon on Feb. 17 that he was going to take the job at Target, according the lawsuit.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined comment citing the company's policy of not commenting on pending litigation. The retailer claims in the filing that because Valdez held a number of senior leadership positions during his 16-year tenure, he has intimate knowledge of the company’s “confidential strategy, implementation plans, and operational techniques.” 

“Mr. Valdez’s new position with a key Amazon competitor will involve the disclosure and use of Amazon’s confidential and proprietary information to Amazon’s detriment and Target’s advantage in a core area of competition between the two companies: the cost-effective and rapid movement of goods in the most efficient way possible for retail customers,” Amazon states.

Valdez’s lawyers at the Seattle-based business and employment law firm Cable, Langenbach, Kinerk & Bauer, LLP did not return email or phone messages seeking comment.

A Target spokeswoman says in an email, “We have taken significant precautions to ensure that any proprietary information remains confidential and we believe this suit is without merit. However, as this is pending litigation we are not going to comment further.”

Amazon also cited Valdez’s role in developing supply chain strategies in emerging markets as a key reason it wants to keep him from going to Target.

When Target announced Valdez’s hiring, chief operating officer John Mulligan cited Valdez’s experience as crucial to the retailer’s growth initiatives.

“Arthur’s leadership and experience will be a tremendous asset as we continue to drive improvements in end-to-end processes including leveraging our almost 1,800 stores to deliver a seamless experience for our guests,” Mulligan said.

That press release and Mulligan’s statements in it are cited in Amazon’s lawsuit, with Amazon claiming Valdez misled Amazon.

“Target’s press release made it clear that Target and Mr. Valdez intended to use his Amazon training and experience, and that its growth ‘hinges on [Target’s] ability to enhance the fundamental aspects of our business, starting with the supply chain,’” Amazon states. “When Mr. Valdez announced his departure for Target, he told Amazon that his work for Target would not violate the Noncompetition Agreement because he would be focused on delivering product to stores.”

Amazon’s suit seeks, among other things, to secure a restraining order which would prevent Valdez from starting his new position at Target. Amazon is also looking to prevent Valdez from going to a competitor for 18 months starting on March 1, 2016.

You can check out Amazon's lawsuit seeking to prevent Arthur Valdez from going to Target yourself by clicking here:

 

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