Could Your Social Media Status Violate a Non-Compete Agreement?

on January 8, 2014 by James Hunt

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It has been said in a wide variety of contexts that you must think twice before you post anything on social media websites. This may hold true when it comes to announcing your new job if you are still bound by a non-compete agreement.

In the recent case of KNF&T Inc. v. Muller, filed in Suffolk, Mass., Superior Court, KNF&T alleged its former vice president Charlotte Muller violated her non-compete contract in a variety of ways, including her announcement of her new job on LinkedIn. KNF&T is in the business of providing staffing resources and Ms. Muller’s new employer, Panther Global Group Inc., recruits in the field of information technology. When Ms. Muller updated her place of employment via LinkedIn, more than 500 contacts, including some she made during her employment with KNF&T, were notified.

KNF&T alleged the LinkedIn notification constituted a solicitation of business, which directly violated her non-compete agreement. In rendering its decision, the court focused on the fact that Ms. Muller’s new position in information technology recruiting did not constitute direct competition with KNF&T’s recruitment of administrative support specialists. Thus, the court held that there was not a violation of the non-competition contract.

The result? Since the Massachusetts court based its decision on the difference in the services provided by the two companies, the issue of whether a simple social media notification can constitute a solicitation of business remains unresolved. Thus, if you or your new employee is bound by the terms of a valid non-compete agreement, it is extremely important to be careful when announcing the new position.

What should you consider? You should have your attorney review the terms of the non-compete contract to determine what constitutes a violation of it. Typically, if the new position directly competes with the business of the former employer or the employee is connected with former clients on the social media website, you may have an issue.

If you have questions regarding non-compete agreements, contact an experienced business litigation attorney at Slater, Tenaglia, Fritz & Hunt, P.A.  for a free initial consultation.

Slater, Tenaglia, Fritz & Hunt, P.A. is a full service law firm.  Our practice focuses on commercial litigation and personal injury matters.  For over 35 years, we have been providing superior legal counseling and representation to institutional clients, including Fortune 500 Corporations and individuals throughout New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and nationally. We can be contacted by phone: (201) 820-6001 or (212) 692-0200 and we can also be found on the Internet, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Youtube. We also have a network of local counsel throughout the United States. All initial consultations are free.