If an employee is not subject to a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement, can she leave her employer for a competitor and freely solicit the former employer’s clients?
No. Even if no non-compete or non-solicitation agreements apply, the former employee does not have carte-blanche to actively solicit the former employer’s clients. Doing so could run afoul of other legal concerns. For example, if the customers have existing contracts with the former employer, the former employee’s encouragement to break those contracts could lead to claims for tortious interference with contractual relationships. The former employee also risks liability for trade secret theft if she relies on a client list or other materials created while working for her former employer. In addition, the former employee’s last few actions as an employee may be carefully scrutinized. If she intentionally engaged in acts contrary to her employer’s interests during that time, she may be sued for breaching her fiduciary duty to the company.
When in doubt about whether a particular action raises legal concerns, an individual should consult with an employment law attorney. To learn more, contact an employment lawyer in your area. This article is presented by the employment law attorneys at Clouse Dunn LLP. For inquiries, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (214) 239-2705.