Does my employer have a case against me if I continue to work for them butstart my own business?

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Does my employer have a case against me if I continue to work for them butstart my own business?

I work as an “Instructional Designer” (trainer) writing documentation for software clients. I want to start a business for IT eLearning software or classroom trainings. I was told that they could sue me even if I did not have the same clients, because I would be doing a similar skill as my position. However, I would follow all of the legal procedures for starting my own small business in OR. I would not be competing with my employer’s current or pursued clientele/contracts. I would not use company resources in order to run my new small business (such as work time, equipment, office location, et

Asked on December 14, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There are two grounds when an employer can sue a former employee for starting a business:

1) The employee violated a noncompetition or nonsolicitation agreement.

2) The employee used confidential, proprietary, or secret business information and know-how.

The second ground does NOT mean merely that  the employee is using the same skills as at his old job; it has to involve more than that, such as using a propriety technique or methodology, something that is not publically known and the employee learned only by dint of his employment with that one particular employer. Otherwise, employers can't stop former  employees from working, even in the same capacity as they had worked for the employer.


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