Howard Hanna accuses Compass of poaching agents, stealing trade secrets

Brokerage alleges three agents violated contracts

Howard Hanna CEO Helen Hanna Casey and Compass CEO Robert Reffkin (Howard Hanna Casey, Getty)
Howard Hanna CEO Helen Hanna Casey and Compass CEO Robert Reffkin (Howard Hanna Casey, Getty)

Real estate brokerage Howard Hanna has accused Compass of stealing its agents and trade secrets before going public earlier this month.

An amended complaint filed by the brokerage in Alleghany County, Pennsylvania, alleges that Compass encouraged three former Howard Hanna agents to breach their contracts, specifically their non-compete, non-solicitation and confidentiality provisions, Inman reported.

The complaint does not mince words, accusing Compass of a “no-holds-barred approach” to poaching agents “in order to justify its narrative as a technology firm poised to upend the real estate industry.”

The complaint alleges that one agent, Michael Hornung, emailed himself the profit and loss report for Howard Hanna’s Adams Township/Seven Fields and Butler locations, along with the email addresses of Howard Hanna agents, as well as other reports.

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It claims another agent, Jennifer Crouse, tried to transfer one listing from Howard Hanna to Compass. And another, Leah George, is accused of not submitting offers to Howard Hanna listings so she could submit those offers when she was at Compass.

“While we’re disappointed by Howard Hanna’s recently amended complaint we remain unshaken in our belief that real estate agents should have the right to choose their brokerage affiliation,” a Compass spokesperson told Inman.

The allegations are similar to other lawsuits that have been filed against Compass. In April 2019, Zillow sued the brokerage, claiming that the company poaches tech talent and stole trade secrets. A lawsuit from Elegran followed in August 2019, which alleged that Compass stole over $2 million worth of data on over 6,300 prospective clients from the company.

Compass’ long-awaited IPO launched on April 1, with the brokerage raising $450 million. Its shares were trading at just above $18 as of Wednesday morning.

[Inman] — Sasha Jones

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