Software consultant non-compete returning to previous employer

I live in PA and am a software consultant working full time for a consulting firm
that does not allow clients to buy out our contracts in order to join the client
full time. I have signed a non-compete with the consulting firm stating I would
not take a position with a client I’ve been placed at by our firm for 1 year
after leaving the consulting firm. In my particular case I’ve worked for the
client full time in the past and have a pre-existing relationship. I’m wondering
if I were to pursue a full time position with that company again, leaving the
consulting firm, if there’d be a legal basis to take action against me.

Asked on March 20, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you signed a contract (the non-compete) barring you from working for them for one year after leaving the firm, that is enforceable despite your pre-existing relationship: contracts are enforced as per their plain terms, so unless the contract itself has an exemption for clients with whom you have a pre-existing relationship, they could bar you from working for them for one year. If you were to do so and they became aware of it, they could sue you for breach of contract, for monetary compensation (e.g. related to the salary you are being paid by the client) and/or for a court order prohibiting you from working there.


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