Walmart filed a lawsuit against its former chief tax officer to prevent her from joining Amazon, alleging the defection could put crucial company information in the hands of its biggest retail rival.
The lawsuit, filed in Delaware’s Court of Chancery and first spotted by Bloomberg, alleges that Lisa Wadlin violated her employment agreement by agreeing to join Amazon. Walmart seeks to block Wadlin from going to Amazon until at least 2020. Wadlin had informed Walmart that she was thinking about leaving in January, but the revelation that she planned to move to Seattle to become a vice president of tax policy at Amazon didn’t come until later.
Walmart argues in its suit that Wadlin — who played a crucial role in Walmart’s $16 billion investment in Flipkart for an 80 percent stake in the India e-commerce company — possesses knowledge of the company’s strategic plans, including acquisitions, and could relay that to Amazon. Walmart is asking the court to bar Wadlin from disclosing sensitive information to Amazon.
Amazon and Walmart have been duking it out for retail supremacy in recent years. Walmart comes into the battle with an advantage in terms of brick-and-mortar footprint, while Amazon has the online edge. Amazon famously acquired Whole Foods to advance its position in physical stores, while Walmart scooped up online retailers like Jet.com and Bonobos to bolster its digital offerings.
Walmart has been steadily adding more features to match Amazon’s logistical prowess. Moves like an expanding grocery delivery service and a series of massive Pickup Towers in Walmart stores are bridging the gap between digital and physical retail.