Verizon Setting Scary Precedent for Ex-Alltel Workers?

Verizon Wireless (VZ) could be setting a frightening precedent for former Alltel workers in Arkansas.

The Associated Press reported this week that Verizon Wireless, which closed the Alltel acquisition early this year, is suing one executive who’s taken a job at a competing wireless service provider. The problem is, Verizon could be inhibiting other former Alltel workers’ prospects of landing jobs in their fields. And isn’t there something in federal law about not being able to bar people from earning a living in their area of expertise?

Verizon says Lewis Langston III could use proprietary information about the company as chief information officer of Allied Wireless, a new subsidiary of Atlantic-Tele Network. Verizon recently sold $200 million worth of its wireless spectrum licenses and network assets to ATN, which has headquartered Allied in Little Rock – right where Alltel was based.

But Langston, according to the AP, is baffled. He says Verizon hasn’t identified the information he supposedly has that could hurt his former employer, and that he has a right to know what executives are talking about.

Verizon wrapped its $28.1 billion takeover of Alltel in January; Langston spent the intervening months, until his November resignation, working on the Alltel integration.

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