In Hedlund, the Plaintiff worked as a Sales Coordinator for the Defendant, supplying tents to the United States military.? ?He made several postings regarding Defendant on an ?Internet job site forum, Indeed.com. ?Indeed.com is a web site designed to be a resource for job seekers, and includes job postings, salary averages, and a forum where employees and applicants can discuss a company?s? ?work? ?environment.?????? The? ?site? ?is designed to allow job seekers to ask others about a company to aid in making a decision whether or not to work there. ?The Plaintiff posted comments about the Defendant to describe an accurate picture of the Defendant, and because he suspected that other postings were made by the Defendant?s employees masquerading as job seekers.? ?The Defendant focused on one particular posting which addressed allegedly inadequate security measures taken by the company and which were based upon public information contained in police reports and newspapers.?? The Defendant brought suit against Plaintiff for having allegedly violated a prior confidentiality agreement he signed during his employment.
The? employee ?claimed ?that ?the? posting was made on a public forum and moved to strike the claim under the state anti-SLAPP statute, RCW 4.24.525. ?The trial court, Judge Yu (now Justice Yu), found that the statute applied, dismissed the claim, and awarded Plaintiff reasonable attorney fees and costs and a statutory required penalty in the amount of $10,000. ?The Defendant appealed.
The Court of Appeals ruled that the Plaintiff?s conduct did not involve a matter of public concern and was therefore not protected activity under the statute. ?It also found that the action involved a claim for breach of contract and not free speech.?? ?[T]he legislature did not grant a party immunity from liability for the consequences? ?of?? speech? ?that? ?is? ?otherwise unlawful or unprotected.? ?The Court declined to extend California case law protecting consumers of products ?to someone who signed a confidentiality agreement potentially limiting his right to speak on certain issues.? ??The issue here is? a simple contractual ?issue – whether or not Hedlund violated a contract he signed with his former employer.? A Petition for Review is pending.
Alaska Structures, Inc. v. Hedlund, — Wn. App.—-,? 323? P.3d? 1082? (Div. ?I.? 4/23/14)? (Grosse, Lau, Dwyer).