Groupon, the world’s largest online coupon website, had accused three of its former sales representative – Nikki Dorough, Brian Hanna and Michael Nolan of leaking out their “confidential trade secrets” when they moved to the search engine giant, Google.
The workers said they decided independently of each other to join Google in the fall. Their countersuit was filed on Wednesday in the Cook County Circuit Court in Illinois, where Groupon had originally sued. The workers maintained that Groupon, by filing its complaint on October 21, was trying to illegally stifle competition and bully workers, as it prepared to “cash in” through its upcoming, eagerly awaited initial public offering.
“In its stop-at-nothing strategy to take itself public and further enrich its founders, Groupon has crossed the line,” the workers said. “The message is clear: don’t leave Groupon and if you do, don’t attempt to use any of the skills and experience you may have developed while working for us.”
The online coupon site went public in the first week of November in an offering that valued the Chicago-based company at $12.8 billion. Dorough, Hanna and Nolan seek compensatory damages for interference with their current work, plus punitive damages. They also want their non-compete clauses to be voided.