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Editor: D. A. Jeremy Telman
Valparaiso Univ. Law School

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Non-Competes and Men of a Certain Age

Ray_RomanoWe have recently discovered a wonderful TNT-network series, Men of a Certain Age.  Unfortunately, the series was cancelled after its second season.  Ray Romano, pictured at left, a co-creator of the show played one of the three main characters.  His character, Joe, is a nice guy with a serious gambling problem, so here we show the actual Ray Romano gambling.  How's that for irony?!?

In a ContractsProf Blog exclusive, we have discovered what did the show in.  It was not the ratings, and it was not the demographic challenges of marketing a show that is not about 20-somethings.  Nor was it because of the fact that the show illustrates that middle-aged people do have sex, enjoy it, and can be pretty good at it.  Nope.  The show's demise was clearly a product of the improbable plot twists involving Andre Braugher's character Owen and his relationship to his father's car dealership.  

Owen works at his father's Chevy dealership.  He anticipates that he will one day succeed his father as owner and manager, but he never meets his father's expectations.  Towards the end of season 1, Owen's father decides to step down, but he appoints a hot-shot salesman to run the operations, and Owen retains his status as a regular salesman.  After putting up with the humiliation for a few weeks, Owen bolts to the rival Chevy dealership, where he prospers.  His father, duly chastened, offers Owen the dealership, and Owen returns.  

So, I don't know for certain that car salesmen have non-compete agreements as a standard element of their contracts, but they certainly ought to, as the show illustrates.  A car salesman is not like an attorney in terms of the law's regard for their relationship with their clientele, but the show does indicate that long-term relationships exist with repeat buyers.  Accordingly, it would not be a wise business practice for any car dealer to permit salesmen to bolt to a rival and to take their client-base with them.  But Men of a Certain Age makes no mention of a non-compete agreement.  

And that's what did them in.  

You read it here first.

[JT]

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