Ex-Encompass Home Health and Hospice CEO accused of breaching employment contract

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A high-profile healthcare CEO is being sued over allegations that she violated her employment contract by stealing away employees from Encompass Health, The Dallas Morning News reported.

April Anthony is founder and former CEO of Dallas-based Encompass Home Health and Hospice. She founded Encompass Home Health and Hospice in 1998, and in 2014, Birmingham, Ala.-based HealthSouth, an inpatient rehabilitation hospital operator, aquired EHHI Holdings, the owner of Encompass Home Health and Hospice. HealthSouth Corp. changed its name to Encompass Health Corp. in 2018.

Encompass Health Corp., in a news release issued Oct. 26, said it sued Ms. Anthony in state District Court in Dallas County, seeking an injunction against the former executive for alleged breach of her employment agreement with Encompass Health, including breach of non-competition and non-solicitation obligations, and for misappropriation of trade secrets.

The lawsuit accuses Ms. Anthony of secretly meeting with employees, including senior executives, to encourage them to leave the company to join a competing venture.

"These efforts began before Ms. Anthony left the company's employment and continued thereafter," Encompass Health Corp. said in its news release. The company also accuses Ms. Anthony of taking "extraordinary steps to hide her activities, which were in direct violation of her contractual and other legal obligations."

The Dallas Morning News could not immediately reach Ms. Anthony for comment.

Ms. Anthony left the company in June to start a new competing venture, Homecare Holdings, a Chicago-based home health business, according to the newspaper. She is accused of stealing the employees away by promising them equity interest in Homecare.

The lawsuit said that a contract Ms. Anthony signed in October 2019 prohibited her from stealing away employees for two years once she left Encompass, and it banned her for one year from engaging in a competing business, The Dallas Morning News reported. 

Dick Sayles, office managing partner at Bradley law firm's Dallas office, which filed the lawsuit, told the newspaper, "We're just seeking to compel Anthony to abide by what she agreed to and fully understood. Agreements like this with high-level employees are standard and there’s nothing unusual in this agreement. We're confident in our position."

Encompass Health Corp. is among the nation's largest providers of post-acute healthcare services. Its national footprint includes 145 hospitals, 249 home health locations, and 95 hospice locations in 42 states and Puerto Rico.

Read the full report here

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