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Barrett Business Systems Sues Two Competing Former Employees and Their Wives

On September 15, 2022, Seattle-based Barrett Business Systems launched an unfair competition suit in Washington state against two former employees, Charles Colmenero and Santiago Alejo. The complaint alleges that the former Area Manager and Recruiter "established a competing business, Repsel Associates, Inc. dba Personna Employer Services while working for Plaintiff." The complaint goes on to allege misappropriation of confidential information and trade secrets and asserts that "Defendants were approaching Plaintiff’s customers and soliciting their business in direct violation of the various agreements and covenants imposed by law and contract."

All of the above is fairly standard in cases of this nature. But what you don't always see is the joinder of the former employees' spouses as defendants. The ability to join spouses presumably rises out of the fact that Washington is a community property state, meaning that both spouses share all marital property and also share in liabilities incurred "for benefit of the marital community." And the complaint does indeed allege that the competing business activities were conducted for such benefit.