A recent U.S. District Court case found that a non-solicitation provision signed by a former employee is enforceable even when the employee was first contacted by the employer’s client. The defendant was a salesman for the plaintiff, and was prohibited from soliciting the plaintiff’s clients for one year after his employment ended. The defendant left his position and went to work for a competitor. The competitor announced that the defendant had changed jobs, and then the defendant was contacted by a client of the plaintiff. The client and the defendant argued that, because the contact was first made by the client, it did not violate the non-solicitation clause in the defendant’s contract with the plaintiff. Judge Woodlock disagreed when issuing a preliminary injunction, finding that it was the communication itself that determined whether solicitation had occurred. The Court did note that the competitor could not be prohibited from “receiving” business from clients of the plaintiff, but that the competitor’s action in sending an announcement to those clients fell within the “plain meaning” of the defendant’s agreement to not “solicit, divert, or entice away” the plaintiff’s clients.
If you have any questions about this case, non-solicitation agreements in general, or want to discuss other business issues that commonly arise, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-570-3170.