In a West Coast vs. East Coast legal battle, Boston Beer Co. is suing craft beer rival Anchor Brewing Co. over a poached employee. The Sam Adams brewer says the hire violated a noncompete agreement. The suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Boston, alleges that Judd Hausner knew his move might be construed as a violation of the noncompete, but told his Boston Beer supervisor upon giving notice that an Anchor employee had told him the agreement could not be enforced.
Hausner gave his notice at Boston Beer to take “a key sales and marketing position with Anchor, a direct competitor of Boston Beer,” the suit states. Boston Beer brews Samuel Adams beers; Anchor’s Anchor Steam beer is another widely distributed craft brew.
Hausner began to work at Boston Beer in 2007, the suit states. “Boston Beer taught Hausner everything he knows about the beer business.” Soon after he was hired, Hausner was transferred to the West Coast.
“As a district manager, he was privy to Boston Beer’s plans and strategies,” the suit alleges.
Non-competes often are hard to enforce. Boston Beer notes in its complaint that the agreement with Hausner only provides that he not work in what’s called the “Better Beer” category.
Boston Beer wants a court injunction barring Hausner from working at Anchor for one year and the repayment of training costs.
Neither Hausner nor Anchor Brewing had responded to the suit in federal court as of press time.