Could restrictive clauses in employment contracts apply to LinkedIn?
June 23, 2010
In an interesting new legal development a US company (TEKsystems Inc) is suing a former employee for using LinkedIn to unlawfully “communicate”, on behalf of her new employer, with at least 20 employees of her previous employer. She is accused of breaching her employment contract which included a non-competition, non solicitation and non-disclosure agreement.
Interestingly, these restrictions in her employment contract did not reference violation via social media specifically, so for employers the outcome of this case could have huge ramifications. If you do have employment contracts with restrictive convenants now could be good time to go back and ensure that these agreements do specifically reference social media to avoid any possible confusion. Get a good lawyer to review your employment contracts and policies!
For professionals using LinkedIn, be aware that if you do have restrictive clauses in your employment agreements, you must be careful how you use LinkedIn post employment. It raises the interesting question – is simply “connecting” with with professional contacts via LinkedIn “solicitation”?
For a full brief on this case and it’s possible legal ramifications please read Renee Jackson, of Nixon Peabody, excellent blog post.