Can I get into trouble from my previous client if I call one of their customers to ask them a question?

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Can I get into trouble from my previous client if I call one of their customers to ask them a question?

My contracting job was terminated as I told my client’s customer that my hours were changed due to a change within my clients company. My client never told me to keep the change within their company confidential. I signed a settlement agreement with my client that stated the business relationship was terminated and neither party was at fault. I realized shortly afterward that another company that I had done business with for many years in the past had stopped all communications with me. My client denies contacting the other company or anyone else. I am quite sure someone in the company that I had the agreement with had contacted the other company as he had once work for that company in a management position. Can I call my clients customer and ask the person I was working with if he had contacted the other company I was in communication with since he is the only

other possible person? My gut feeling is he did not contact them since as far as I know he does not know of my past work history and I don’t think he even knows that I had been terminated.

Asked on April 18, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you did not sign any agreement barring you from contacting the client, you legally may do so. Anyone may talk to anyone they want when there is no agreement to not do so.
However, be careful in doing this: if you say anything critical of the former employer and that gets back to that company, there may be (depending on what you said) grounds for them to take legal action against you for defamation or for tortious (or wrongful) interference in their business. Those are not necessarily easy claims to win on, so even if they do sue, it's far from guaranteed that they'd succeed--but if they are sufficiently angry about the contact and you said anything that even plausibly gives them grounds to take legal action, they may try doing so, forcing you to spend time, effort, and possibly money defending yourself. Unless it is somehow very important to get this information, it is better to not risk conflict.


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