Halifax requires former NYT regional employees to sign noncompete agreements

Halifax Employee Agreement
Employees at the 16 papers now owned by Halifax Media Group are being asked to sign an agreement that allows the company to fire them anytime but prevents them from working for media companies for two years in any other city with a Halifax property. Those include mid-size cities in Alabama, California, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina. A tipster said employees have until tomorrow to decide whether to sign or lose their jobs. I also hear Halifax has a nepotism policy that prevents family members from working in the same newsroom. It’s unclear whether existing couples will be grandfathered in or asked to comply. || Previously: Halifax emails NY Times Regional staff about jobs

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  • http://twitter.com/cyr3n Julia Howe


    To put this in terms that people outside of media can fully understand it’s like working as a mechanic at Goodyear, signing a contract that says you can’t do any “business related to cars” for two years if they fire you. You then get fired for spilling some oil. Now they try to sue you for working as an auto parts salesman at Sears three towns away. I’m not  exaggerating… it’s THAT crazy. This will force entire families in small towns onto welfare if the corporation chooses to let the primary wage earner go.”  
    http://www.dekkerdreyer.com/blog/call-for-protest-of-halifax-media/

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Absolutely true. We covered that in our latest on this story: http://journ.us/wR6oxK

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Absolutely true. We covered that in our latest on this story: http://journ.us/wR6oxK

  • http://twitter.com/pjc415 P J Connolly

    Good luck enforcing any non-compete agreements in California, Halifax. Judges in the Golden State routinely throw those out, unless it involves a sale of goodwill or the dissolution of a partnership or LLC.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YVKMJEQKOC7UNCKRJK7TNL472M Van

    It’s not NYT doing the bullying, it’s Halifax.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YVKMJEQKOC7UNCKRJK7TNL472M Van

    It’s not NYT doing the bullying, it’s Halifax.

  • Anonymous

    Non-competes are common.  This one is unusual because it covers such a long period of time and in effect bars people from changing professions.  (i.e. I’m a reporter for this paper, but am barred from going to work as a sales rep for the local shopper.)  Judges don’t like this much restraint so it would be interesting to see just how well this document held up in court.

    JTFloore, do you not think a columnist or cartoonist might be as valuable as a local TV anchor?  Does anyone not think that a sales rep, who has built a strong relationship with customers, would not do serious harm if he left the paper and went to another media?

    These are the reasons non-competes exist.  But this one is over the top.

  • http://twitter.com/pixfixer Arnold Kirschner

    This is a very telling abuse of power to fire skilled people for not signing an agreement to make yourself unemployable in your field, where you live after accepting the right of your employer to fire you at anytime for any reason and to agree to this with a gun at your head.  What makes all this even worse you are expected to show that company loyalty or else.  Why is this not a real big news item? Halifx should give these people, at the very least, two years worth of pay. Let that sward have two edges.
    This is a threat to EVERYONE with a job. It sets a president that won’t be overlooked by other companies seeking to enslave and under their employees. This abuse should be BIG news.

  • http://twitter.com/pixfixer Arnold Kirschner

    This is a very telling abuse of power to fire skilled people for not signing an agreement to make yourself unemployable in your field, where you live after accepting the right of your employer to fire you at anytime for any reason and to agree to this with a gun at your head.  What makes all this even worse you are expected to show that company loyalty or else.  Why is this not a real big news item? Halifx should give these people, at the very least, two years worth of pay. Let that sward have two edges.
    This is a threat to EVERYONE with a job. It sets a president that won’t be overlooked by other companies seeking to enslave and under their employees. This abuse should be BIG news.

  • Anonymous

    i once worked for a small metropolitan daily where the publisher tried to get reporters to sign non-compete agreements. everybody refused and he backed down. thankfully. this case, however, is particularly onerous because it clearly seeks to keep low-paid staff from getting jobs for probably only slightly higher pay. it is nothing short of attempting to enforce slavery. this is NOT remotely comparable to a tv station that has popular anchors that might lure some audience if they move to another station. whoever at halifax who came up with this idea should be fired. indeed, all of american journalism should boycott that frigging company.  

  • http://twitter.com/TedRall Ted Rall

    Scripps-Howard has a much worse clause in their severance agreements. When I was laid off as Editor of Acquisitions and Development of the soon-to-be-shuttered United Media in 2009, I was told that I would receive zero severance unless I agreed to–get this–never work in the field of media again. Forever. I’m a syndicated cartoonist and columnist. Technically, I couldn’t have written books anymore.

    I refused to sign, of course. But many other desperate souls did.

    At least NYT is bullying people BEFORE they fire them.

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Yep, you got it right. Except, employees may have had more than 24 hours to decide; I don’t know when they were originally told about the non-compete. –Julie

  • Janet Rae-Dupree

    So — let me get this straight. If you have lived and worked in one of these media markets for years, you must decide within 24 hours whether to sign away your ability to work in your home market for two years?!? And there is no guarantee that Halifax won’t lay you off 10 minutes after you’ve signed this thing? AND if you happen to be married to a newsroom colleague, one of you may have to quit tomorrow anyway?