My name is Colette Buser. Last summer, I was unable to work as a camp counselor due to a noncompete clause.
After working at Linx Camps in Wellesley for three years, I decided to seek work elsewhere. I interviewed at a different camp in early January of 2014 during my winter break, and was offered a position there on January 10th. Over two months later I received a call from the new camp asking if I had a noncompete clause with Linx. They explained that they could not hire me if I did. I told them that I did not know, and I would check with Linx. I emailed Linx and they sent me the noncompete language from my contract in an email. After numerous conversations back and forth with Linx, they would not release me from the noncompete clause. I was completely shocked and disheartened.
When I signed my first Linx contract in 2011, which included a noncompete clause, I was 16 years old and had just finished my sophomore year of high school. It was part of a click through agreement. Yes, I should have read the agreement more carefully, but I did not even know what a noncompete was. There was no discussion of the noncompete clause in my interview, or during camp training. Furthermore, if I had disagreed with the noncompete, a negotiation would not have been possible. Working at Linx is highly competitive for teenagers in the area, and Linx would have just hired the next teenager who did not complain about the contract. I signed two more contracts containing noncompete clauses in the following summers, though was only aware of them when it was brought to my attention last March.
In response to questions from the media about the use of noncompetes, Joe Kahn, Linx’s owner and founder stated, “Our intellectual property is the training and fostering of our counselors, which makes for our unique environment …It’s much like a tech firm with designers who developed chips: You don’t want those people walking out the door. It’s the same for us.” I would like to respond to Mr. Kahn’s comment. Though the Linx training was useful in some ways, such as learning where buildings were and standard camp procedures, in others ways it was not training at all. For example, I spent a full training day assembling canoes, putting sticky letters on the sides of them, and then moving 20 wagons up a hill. I do not consider this training by any means. The training itself did not strike me as particularly unique. The fact is, Linx is not a tech firm and I was not designing computer chips.
In the summer of 2013, I was hired as a part-time art teacher for three to six year olds. I planned and carried out all my own art projects, and did not receive any art ideas from Linx staff. I was not trained to be an art teacher by Linx, and my projects were my own.
Finally, this was a low wage summer job. It was unfair to restrict my job search using a noncompete when finding a job close to home was difficult. It is hard enough for teenagers to find a summer job, and to limit the possibilities even more is unjustified. I am not qualified to speak on the use of noncompetes in general, but in my case, as a part-time summer camp counselor, I believe they are unfair and unreasonable.