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Appeals court ruling strengthens non-solicitation agreements

One common concern for many employers is finding functional ways to compel their employees to abide by non-compete agreements, which can be very difficult to enforce. To this end, many employers choose to employ more specific non-solicitation agreements, which specifically seek to keep an employee from bailing on the company and taking clients with them. However, even these more specific agreements have their weaknesses, which many employees or potential employees may seek to circumvent.

A new ruling from the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals has given some additional muscle to these kinds of agreements, refuting a long-held principle that solicitation does not occur if a client makes first contact with a former employee. This idea is generally referred to as the "bright line principle."

The new ruling redraws some of the boundaries of solicitation in light of the circumstances of the case. The defendant in the claim argued that they were innocent of solicitation because they had not made first contact with clients who left the plaintiff after an employee moved to a new employer. However, the new employer took advantage of the move and announced the new hire in a mass email which went to many clients who had worked with the employee under the first employer. The court read this action as an intentional act to subvert the non-solicitation agreement, and ruled against it.

If you believe that you've suffered a business agreement violation, you deserve to have your circumstances examined by an experienced legal professional. With the guidance of an attorney with years of practice in business and employment agreements, you can secure your rights and protect your business.

Source: New Hampshire Business Review, "Non-solicitation agreements really do have teeth," Cameron G. Shilling, accessed April 07, 2017

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