If you’re starting your own firm, you’re likely being careful to adhere to any non-compete and/or non-solicitation agreement you signed with your former employer. You’re certainly not reaching out individually to any of your former clients or other clients of that company to bring them on board.
These days, however, news and details of a financial professional’s moves are easy to get. Clients who want to stay with you – even if it means switching firms and trusting their investments to a start-up – know how to find you. The same is true for former colleagues who want to follow you in your new venture.
One common way that people get this information is through social media. So just what can you do on social media to get the word out about your new business that won’t violate any non-compete or non-solicitation agreement?
Every agreement and every situation is different. However, a few examples of court rulings in cases where former employers have taken legal action can give you some idea of what facts are considered.
Several examples of court rulings
For example, in one case, a former employee of a company sent out invitations to people to connect with them on LinkedIn. A court ruled that because the invitations didn’t directly mention their former or new employer or specifically invite people to apply for a job or do anything besides accept the invitation, they hadn’t violated their non-compete agreement.
Another court sided with a person who posted on Facebook that they were with a new employer. A number of their former clients moved their business to her new employer to remain with her.
When the “solicitation” is more active, courts may be more inclined to rule in favor of the former employer. For example, in one case, a former employer used Facebook to encourage former colleagues to apply for a job with their new business. They also used LinkedIn to broadcast the date their agreement with the former employer ended while encouraging people to submit applications.
You can’t know for certain what your former employer will consider a violation of your agreement and whether or not they’ll choose to take legal action. You also can’t predict how a judge will rule. Your best bet before you do anything to announce your move – perhaps even to your current employer – is to get sound legal guidance to help prevent any missteps.