Can my ex-employer sue me because I went to work for a competing company along with several others?

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Can my ex-employer sue me because I went to work for a competing company along with several others?

We did not have a non-compete contract.

Asked on July 28, 2011 Montana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There are generally only two grounds for a lawsuit or legal action by a former employer against an employee working with a competitor:

1) If there was a non-competition agreement, which you say there was not;

2) If in going to work for the competitor, you brought with you clients files, sales records, intellectual property, business plans or strategy, or other confidential information or property of the first employer; if you did that--if you took something that was not yours--then they would have grounds to sue you, seeking an order to prevent you from using that material or to recover their damages or losses caused by your misppropriation of it. In this case, it's the misappropriation, not working for a competitor per se, that gives rise to the legal action.


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