Owners of a new salon in Essex Jct. are being sued for allegedly using proprietary information to steal customers from their previous employer – another salon located across the street.
A lawsuit filed in Chittenden Superior Court – Civil Division earlier this month accuses Heather Patnode, Michelle Young and Nicole Cussin of stealing more than $2,000 of hair products and a customer list from Essex HairCuts Plus before leaving their jobs there in August. The lawsuit was filed by Frank Cooper, Inc., the salon’s parent company.
The lawsuit says the trio used the customer list to call clients and claim their former employer’s salon was closing in an effort to drum up business for their new salon, Park Street Kuts, located at 4 Park St. next to McGillicuddy’s.
Reached at the salon last week, the three women said their attorney, Chelsea Crucitti, advised them not to talk about the case. Crucitti also declined to comment.
In a sworn affidavit, the owner of Essex HairCuts Plus, William O’Brien, said his salon keeps its customer list on a computer system that employees are not authorized to access for personal use.
After Patnode, Young and Cussin left their jobs this summer, an audit of the salon’s computer systems showed they had accessed the list and converted it to solicit business for their new salon, the affidavit claims.
O’Brien says he’s lost customers because of the theft. Through his lawyer, Brooks McArthur, he filed an emergency injunction on October 11 asking the court to force the women to return the customer list and cease using it to call clients.
Multiple attempts to reach McArthur for comment were unsuccessful.
Park Street Kuts opened in early September and has gained 26 five-star reviews on its Facebook page since. The salon hosted a grand opening last Saturday.