Can you “steal” an account from a former employer?

UPDATED: Feb 12, 2012

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can you “steal” an account from a former employer?

My fiance was working for a cleaning company. She handled 2 accounts for them in another city where we live over 45 miles away. She loved the work but had problems with the company servicing the account. She has since quit and we have started our own cleaning service in our city. We have 2 accounts currently. Would there be any legal problems with requesting a reference from the facility she cleaned for her previous employer as well as providing them with a bid for our services? She was never required to sign a non-compete agreement with her former employer.

Asked on February 12, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Can you request a reference from the facility? Yes--as long as she did not sign any agreement precluding or prohibiting this, which apparently she did not. The law does not, in the absence of an agreement, forbid someone from seeking a reference from anyone they did work for.

Can you provide a bid to that facility? Possibly not. Even in the absence of an agreement to the contrary, it is often illegal to use information which you obtained only by dint of employment for your own benefit and to the employer's detriment. Since presumably, your fiance only knows about that customer due to her employment, using that proprietary knowledge to try to take the account away could give rise to liability. Even if it were ultimately found that what she did was not wrongful, there is a good chance she could find herself threatened with or involved in litigation, which would not be to her interest.

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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption