Can an employer sue an employee for emailing clients after termination?

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Can an employer sue an employee for emailing clients after termination?

Can the employee be sued if the employers email server is backed up onto the employees personal email drive? The employee emailed his clients letting him know that he is no longer working for the company and provided his phone number for questions. The employee did not provide any information regarding the business or employer to any clients. The employer is now accusing the employee of slander and stealing business. Does the employee have a case?

Asked on August 5, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It's not slander unless the employee made untrue factual statements about the former employer, which statments damage its reputation. But an employee or former employee may not use employer resources or information for his or her own gain; so if the employee used email addresses and contacts he or she only had as part of his or her employment to mail to the company's client list and--implicitly--asking them to keep working with him or her after termination (which is what asking them to contact him/her with questions can be taken to be), the employee did misappropriate the "property" of the employer and potentially could be liable for any losses (e.g. lost clients) they suffered. An employee should not reach to employer clients using the employer's contact list or email addresses provided by the employer after termination of employment.


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