Walmart Sues Former Executive For Ditching It For Corporate Nemesis Amazon

Eric Lieberman | Tech and Law Reporter

Walmart filed a lawsuit against a former executive Wednesday for jumping ship and going to rival Amazon too soon, according to multiple reports.

The retail behemoth argues that Lisa Wadlin, the former chief tax officer, violated her employment agreement by leaving for Amazon way before she was contractually allowed. Walmart is aiming to officially forbid Wadlin of assuming a position at Amazon until at least May 2020 because top officials fear that her knowledge of internal strategies and potentially proprietary secrets “would be of immense benefit to Amazon,” Reuters reports.

The legal complaint is just another example of a corporate battle that has been steadily testy as Amazon’s power grows and Walmart’s stake in the retail industry dwindles.

Corporate nemeses, Amazon and Walmart have essentially been dueling to lay claim to a massive market of shoppers. Tactics they have respectively adopted include Walmart telling tech companies last year they aren’t allowed to run apps on Amazon’s cloud computing platform if they want their business. Walmart also announced partnerships with Google and Uber, respectively, in attempt to combat Amazon and its diverse set of services — the search giant for its smart speakers, and the ride-sharing company for its digital distribution capabilities, both technologies Amazon also boasts.

Now, Walmart is trying to ensure that the departure of Wadlin, once a senior vice president, doesn’t substantially benefit its business adversary.

“Wadlin’s pursuit of employment with Amazon eviscerates the contractual terms Walmart bargained for” in her employment contract, Walmart’s lawyers said in the Delaware Chancery Court lawsuit, according to The Seattle Times. Walmart wants to protect its right to legally obstruct “senior employee’s ability to work for its direct competitor.”

And Amazon knows that sentiment quite well. The Seattle-based tech conglomerate sued its former vice president of cloud computing for not abiding by the non-compete clause of his agreement. That executive, Gene Farrell, somewhat quickly went to a new startup, something Amazon took offense to because of exclusive trade secrets he allegedly knew about — an almost identical situation to the most recent one with Walmart. (RELATED: There’s A Newfound Hatred Of Silicon Valley)

Whatever happens in the end with the now-pending lawsuit, it’s clear that the two tech corporations don’t want to give up an inch in the struggle for serving as many customers and users as possible.

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