Tyson Foods sues former VP now working for competitor (UPDATED)

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 8,258 views 

Springdale-based Tyson Foods is seeking an injunction against former executive Rex Holstein in Washington County Circuit Court after Holstein took a job at a rival poultry company.

According to a Wednesday (Dec. 8) filing, Holstein recently resigned as vice president of commodity purchasing to accept a similar job with Little Rock-based Mountaire Corp. Tyson Foods also named the company as a defendant.

Mountaire, like Tyson Foods, produces and processes poultry.

Holstein worked for Tyson Foods in various roles for more than 25 years. The company promoted him to vice president in December 2014, with oversight “of nearly 100 Tyson team members responsible for procurement, merchandising, and risk management of Tyson’s purchasing, storage, and sale of commodities.”

According to the filing, Holstein managed an annual commodity purchasing and trading budget of more than $3 billion in fiscal year 2021.

Tyson Foods argued that Holstein violated the Arkansas Trade Secrets Act and that he couldn’t perform his new job without breaking a confidentiality agreement. According to the filing, Holstein is also violating a non-compete agreement he signed with Tyson Foods in November 2018 that prohibits him from seeking work with a competitor for one year after leaving the company.

Tyson Foods says Holstein resigned Nov. 29 — less than a week after he received a $350,000 annual performance bonus.

A PDF of the 17-page filing can be found here.

Washington County Circuit Court Judge Doug Martin granted Tyson Foods’ request for an emergency restraining order against Holstein late Friday afternoon.

The request for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for Monday (Dec. 13) at 1:30 p.m. at the Washington County Courthouse.