All workers have access to company trade secrets and special equipment. But employers don't usually tolerate workers walking out with the goods. So, John Sahag Ltd., an upscale Manhattan-based hair salon that caters to celebs, has slapped a lawsuit against a former stylist, accusing her of taking "color formula cards" to her new job.
According to the lawsuit, which was first reported on by the New York Daily News, Reyna Garcia last month moved to a rival salon, Metodo Rossano Ferretti Hair Spa, but brought with her the "precise formula" of hair dyes preferred by clients and their contact information.
Don't laugh. This is no petty theft from the local barber shop. Sahag's celebrity clientele -- which reportedly include Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Lopez -- pay $300 to $375 for hair treatments at Sahag, according to New York Magazine. And at the time Garcia, 33, left Sahag, she was thought to be working with anywhere between 200-400 clients. So if all the clients jumped ship after coming for a cut once a month, the financial loss could be as heavy as $150,000 a month. Sahag is seeking unspecified damages.
In speaking to the Daily News, Sahag attorney Paul Millus spoke of the color formulas as central to the stylist's business model. "The information on our cards is proprietary, precise," he said. "It involves formulas and combinations that were worked out over long periods of time."
Why does Sahag suspect a theft has taken place? According to the suit, four of Garcia's clients told Sahag that Garcia's new employer, Ferretti, contacted them and suggested they should move to Ferretti for hair-coloring. And because customers' contact information is part of the formula cards, Sahag connected the dots that the cards must have been taken by Garcia on her 10-block trip that separates the two salons in midtown Manhattan. "It's doubtful that she would have memorized the information," Millus added.
Garcia, for her part, has turned down requests from the media to discuss the matter. But Steven Miller, who's representing Ferretti, dismissed the lawsuit as a "a fishing expedition."
Thus far, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Anil Singh has issued a ban on the rival's use of the hair-coloring formulas. But Singh's order also said Ferretti has every right to reach out to Sahag's former clients.
Employee theft of all kinds is a growing problem in America. As AOL Jobs reported earlier this week, some workers have become so brazen they've even begun robbing cash from employers before even getting hired, as one Florida man stands accused of doing after applying for a job at a Citgo Station.
And in the last five years, employee thefts cost retailers alone about $15 billion a year, according to the National Retail Federation.
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