Bankrupt fabric maker Guilford Mills is suing former senior vice president Christopher Richard in an attempt to force him out of his new job with rival textile maker Collins & Aikman.

Richard, who left Guilford Mills in February following a row with chief executive John Emrich, took up the post of senior vice president, global commercial fabric sales and product design at Collins & Aikman in July. The firm, which supplies fabric to automotive makers, is one of Guilford Mills' biggest competitors.

According to a lawsuit filed in Guilford County Superior Court, by taking this job Richard violated agreements signed with Guilford Mills - which wants to prevent him from working for Collins & Aikman for at least two years and to keep him from disclosing Guilford's trade secrets and other confidential information.

Richard, who was senior vice president in charge of Guilford Mills' automotive fabric division, resigned following a disagreement with Emrich over plans to refinance the company's $275 million debt.