Former Kohl's CIO Janet Schalk (right) announced she is leaving the company to join Hudson's Bay as CIO. Kohl's is suing her based on a noncompete clause in her contract that bars her from working in a similar position with a competitor for one year.
Kohl's has requested a temporary restraining order to enforce the employment contract, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Schalk plans to dispute the charge at the circuit court hearing on Thursday, Aug. 13 in Waukesha County, Wisconsin.
According to a brief filed by Schalk, Hudson's Bay is not a direct competitor of Kohl's because its operations include high-end, luxury retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th and Lord & Taylor.
Schalk joined Kohl's in 2010 as senior VP of business applications and was promoted to exec-VP and CIO two years later. She led the company through a major overhaul of its core merchandising, inventory and pricing system by updating to a new Oracle platform.
Before Kohl's, Schalk was at Target, serving as exec-VP, global IT and CIO at Target for three out of the four years she was with the company.
Kohl's claims Schalk has been deeply involved in the company's future strategy.
"Armed with the knowledge gained during her employment at Kohl's, Schalk poses a competitive threat far more dangerous to Kohl's than other competitors who are not privy to the very private information to which Schalk was provided access," stated the company's brief.
Schalk's attorney, Michelle Martin, called the noncompete language in the contract "extremely complex" and said she plans to call at least four witnesses during the hearing. Thursday's hearing was originally scheduled for one-hour, but Martin has requested that time period be extended for most of the day.
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