Could social media posts violate non-solicitation agreements?

Social media sites such as LinkedIn and Ladders have changed the landscape for salespeople and jobseekers alike. Salespeople can reach and develop a larger customer base with less effort, and job seekers can connect with decision-makers in unprecedented ways. But with so much more exposure, salespeople who leave an employer may have to be particularly careful about comments made on social media, especially if the employee is subject to a non-solicitation agreement.

A recent ruling by a federal district court in Minnesota exemplifies this notion. The court granted a preliminary injunction preventing a former employee of Mobile Mini, Inc. from soliciting customers through LinkedIn. 

Upon resigning as from her position as a sales rep for Mobile Mini, the employee promised, among other things, not to solicit any her former employer’s customers for at least 12 months. After joining a competitor six months later, the employee posted two seemingly benign posts. One of them asked potential customers to call for quotes for products from her new employer.

Even though she was now in another region of the country, Mobile Mini brought suit, arguing that the posts violated the non-solicitation clauses in the agreement and immediately asked the court for a preliminary injunction. The court agreed, reasoning that the posts went further than announcing a job change when they included requests for potential customers to contact her.

Indeed, making an announcement about a new position with a new company is within an employee’s right, but employers will fight jealously to protect their position in the marketplace. In these instances, an experienced employment law attorney can protect the rights of an employee who is simply trying to make a living with a new employer. 

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