Our team of experts fields real-life, everyday questions from HR managers and gives practical answers that can be applied by any HR pro in the same situation. Today’s question: A departing employee changed his employment status on a social website — so all his clients know he’s now working somewhere else. Could this be considered a violation of his non-compete agreement?
Our managers and staff typically “friend” their clients on LinkedIn. But now a manager has resigned and gone to work for a competitor. When he changed his employment status on LinkedIn, all of his previous clients became aware that he’d changed jobs. Has he violated our non-compete agreement?
It depends, says Michael R. Greco (firstname.lastname@example.org), who’s addressed this issue in-depth on his blog, noncompetenews.com.
A court will ask:
- Does the contract specify that client info (such as identities, names, addresses, etc.) is confidential?
- Did you actually treat such information as confidential?
To avoid problems like this in the future, do the following:
- Include a clause in your employment contracts making it clear that employees and managers are barred from contacting clients to notify them of a change in employment, and
- Specify that communications made through a social networking site such as LinkedIn, Facebook, etc., can constitute a violation of your computer use policy.