Tattoo parlour can’t stop artist from opening own shop

Contract prohibited apprentice from setting up own business within a 320 km radius for three years
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 05/16/2012

A tattoo parlour’s restrictive covenant preventing a tattoo artist from setting up shop after leaving is not enforceable, the Saskatchewan Provincial Court has ruled.

On Aug. 8, 2007, Adam Paton became an apprentice to Dennis Cantelo, a tattoo artist who ran a parlour called Drillers Tattoos in Yorkton, Sask. Paton was required to sign an agreement that stipulated if either party terminated the agreement or it expired, Paton could not “engage in tattooing for gain nor will he be a proprietor of, nor employee, servant or contractor of any person or corporation engaged in the operation of a tattooing business within a 200 mile (320 km) radius of the City of Yorkton for a period of three years.” If Paton violated this agreement, he would be on the hook for a $10,000 payment to Cantelo. Cantelo suggested that Paton take the agreement to a lawyer before signing it, but Paton declined.

Once Paton completed his apprenticeship, he continued to work at Drillers Tattoos, renting a chair. There was no written chair rental agreement, but Paton paid $500 per month. Paton was responsible for his own income tax, as well as all his earnings other than the rental amount. While working at Drillers, Paton made money from his own clients he booked directly.