Can my ex-employer sue me because I went to work for a competing company along with several others?

UPDATED: Jul 28, 2011

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Can my ex-employer sue me because I went to work for a competing company along with several others?

We did not have a non-compete contract.

Asked on July 28, 2011 Montana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

There are generally only two grounds for a lawsuit or legal action by a former employer against an employee working with a competitor:

1) If there was a non-competition agreement, which you say there was not;

2) If in going to work for the competitor, you brought with you clients files, sales records, intellectual property, business plans or strategy, or other confidential information or property of the first employer; if you did that--if you took something that was not yours--then they would have grounds to sue you, seeking an order to prevent you from using that material or to recover their damages or losses caused by your misppropriation of it. In this case, it's the misappropriation, not working for a competitor per se, that gives rise to the legal action.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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