Employees are the backbone of a successful business. So much so, that in some cases, if a key employee or several key employees leave and start their own firm or join a competitor, a business may be hard pressed to survive, or maintain its share of the market.
This raises an interesting question.
In the absence of a written agreement restricting an employee’s ability to compete or solicit clients or other employees, if a key employee leaves, can an employer prevent the ex-employee from taking advantage of confidential information or knowledge they learned while working for the employer or soliciting clients or other employees?
The answer is: It depends.
A few important factors to determine before providing an answer would be if there is a contract that restricts the ex-employee’s conduct or if the employee owed a fiduciary duty to his or her former employer and whether the employee is taking advantage of confidential information.