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Can my former employer sue me? California

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  • Can my former employer sue me? California

    I'm a salesman in California. I've been in the business for several years, working for my most recent employer for a year.

    Recently, one of my co-workers approached me with an offer. He has a friend in management with a competitor and he was entertaining an offer to go work for them. He asked me if I wanted to go with him.

    Four of us interviewed with the new company and were offered jobs. Three of us quit at the same time (today), the fourth is waiting to close a couple of days to finish a few deals he is working on.

    A few hours after I told my immediate boss I was quitting, one of the company owners called me. He told me that he knew that I was part of a larger group that was going to work for a competitor and that he would sue me if I had any further contact with any of his employees. Some of these people are friends. I'm Facebook friends with many of them.

    Can he sue me for calling these people on their cell phones when they are not at work?

  • #2
    The answer to any question that starts, Can (fill in the blank) sue me is yes. Anyone with a filing fee can sue for any reason. I can sue you because I don't like your shirt. Doesn't mean I'll win, but I can.

    I doubt that he can successfully sue you for talking to these people. It is not impossible that he could win a suit to stop the other employer from hiring his people. I don't say he has a slam dunk, but I have seen a successful suit in this instance. It was not in your state and the circumstances were not exactly as you've described, but the suing employer won.

    Consult local counsel.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by cbg View Post
      The answer to any question that starts, Can (fill in the blank) sue me is yes. Anyone with a filing fee can sue for any reason. I can sue you because I don't like your shirt. Doesn't mean I'll win, but I can.

      I doubt that he can successfully sue you for talking to these people. It is not impossible that he could win a suit to stop the other employer from hiring his people. I don't say he has a slam dunk, but I have seen a successful suit in this instance. It was not in your state and the circumstances were not exactly as you've described, but the suing employer won.

      Consult local counsel.
      Thanks! I suppose I should have asked the question "would he prevail".

      Comment


      • #4
        It is highly unlikely that your former employer could prevail if you simply talk to your friends about football, their children, or the latest movies. He can't tell you not to speak to your friends.

        However, if you solicit the employees of your former employer, then there are a number of causes of action that, in some cases, have been used to successfully bar or even obtain damages resulting from such contact. Even assuming you have not signed a contract that prohibits such solicitation (giving rise to a breach of contract action), the employer might sue based on breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, violation of unfair competition laws, or intentional and negligent interference with business relationships, to name a few.

        That is not to say your former employer would necessarily prevail, but there are certainly cases where courts have held that former employees stepped over the line and could be held responsible.
        David K. Staub (www.illinoisbusinessattorney.com)
        Forum posts are not legal advice, are for informational and educational purposes only, and are not a substitute for proper consultation with legal counsel.

        Comment

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