Labs In Court

Taking Job at Genetic Lab Doesn’t Violate Oncologist’s Non-Compete with Health Data Firm

Case: Three years after becoming Senior Medical Director of Research Oncology for healthcare technology and data services company Flatiron Health, an accomplished oncologist accepted the position of Vice President of Clinical Solutions at Tempus Labs. Flatiron cried foul and sued the oncologist for violating his non-compete banning him from working for a rival company for one year after leaving the firm. But the New York federal court disagreed and tossed the claim. Although both firms provide curated data services, Tempus’ principal business is its clinical lab, something Flatiron doesn’t have. And because the oncologist would be working for the lab and not the data operations, the position wasn’t competitive.

Significance: Courts are loath to enforce non-compete covenants, particularly in the medical field where public policy dictates that doctors and other skilled practitioners be allowed to ply their trade for the public good. Another decisive factor in this case was that the oncologist returned all Flatiron documents and devices, deleted the Flatiron email account from his phone and removed himself from company Slack groups. And the data that could potentially benefit Tempus was beyond his ken as an oncologist and way too complicated for anybody to memorize [Flatiron Health v. Carson, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9782].

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