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4 violations of a non-solicitation agreement

You take care in selecting and training your employees, so when one of them leaves your company – whether by your choice or your employee's – you may find it upsetting and frustrating. Additionally, you may have spent years building a solid list of clients based on your company's integrity and skill. To lose a customer is a personal matter, and it may result in a review of your policies or time-consuming efforts to win the customer back.

When these problems occur together, you may see your business falter. You will spend valuable time and company resources to fix the problem, and the reputation of your business may suffer. If you discover that a former employee is luring away your staff and your customers, you may have a serious matter to deal with.

Breaking a contract

A manager or executive who has left your company may see your business as a wealth of treasure for the picking. If the former employee has gone to a competitor's company or started a new business, your well-trained staff and ready-made client list may seem like gold to him or her. However, if your employment contract contains a non-solicitation clause, your former employee may be in violation of that agreement. A non-solicitation clause restricts an individual from the following:

  • Inviting your current employees to leave your company and come to work for him or her
  • Taking employees from a functioning business that you purchase
  • Contacting your customers to invite them to leave your business and hire your former employee
  • Trying to lure former customers away after he or she has sold a business to you

Solicitation of employees or clients may be obvious and direct. If your former employee calls or visits your clients with the enticement of a better contract, that is likely direct solicitation. A former employee who meets one of your top salespeople in your office parking lot to offer him or her a job is directly soliciting. Indirect solicitation, such as sending a mass email advertising a new business or extending an offer through a third party, may be more difficult to prove in court.

Going to court

The terms of your non-solicitation agreement, just as the terms of any restrictive clause in your employment contract, will be under scrutiny when you take your former employee to court for violating the agreement. The court will want to see if your contract was too restrictive as well as examining the actions and intentions of your former worker.

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