The firm, which was founded in 2008, has two offices in Long Island City and is headed by CEO Eric Benaim. Modern Spaces is suing Compass, a brokerage firm that launched in 2012.
According to the suit, Modern Spaces is claiming that Compass’ “main corporate strategy appears to rely on undermining its competition by unlawfully ‘poaching’ Modern Spaces’ real estate agents while simultaneously misappropriating Modern Spaces’ confidential and proprietary information to gain an unfair advantage in a competitive market.”
Jessica Meis, a real estate agent, began working for Modern Spaces in July 2017. During that time, the suit states, she had access to private information including open and exclusive listings that were stored on the firm’s password protected database.
Meis left the company in January 2018 to work for Compass and a few days before her resignation, she allegedly emailed dozens of files to herself including “proprietary customer and listing data,” according to the suit.
Modern Spaces is arguing that Meis broke her confidentiality agreement when she did this and when she took marketing materials, including photographs, which were posted on Compass’ website.
“Modern Spaces is not the first company to fall prey to the brazenly unethical actions of Compass, as the extensive list of lawsuits against them shows,” the firm said in a statement. “In our case, certain Modern Spaces agents appear to have been used as tools by Compass, who allegedly supplied them with step-by-step instructions on how to steal proprietary company information and listings. As a company with deep ties to the Long Island City community we serve and support, we will not sit idly by and allow this malicious campaign to publicly undermine Modern Spaces, all in the name of gaining market share.”
Compass has been sued several times by other firm’s for engaging in similar practices, according to The Real Deal, which first reported the story.
The Corcoran Group and Citi Habitats sued the company in 2015 for poaching agents, violating non-compete agreements and hacking into listings. Compass then countersued The Corcoran Group for launching a smear campaign against its agents.
Saunders & Associates, a Hamptons-based firm, sued Compass in 2015, arguing that a former agent took proprietary information and shared it with Compass when she switched jobs.
According to The Real Deal, Compass hired an agent from Nest Seekers International last year to expand its business into Long Island City.
“Compass has never been found liable by court of committing any of the allegations set forth in Modern Space’s complaint,” the company said in a statement to The Real Deal.