What is the law regarding an independent contractor soliciting/being solicited by clients after leaving a company?

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What is the law regarding an independent contractor soliciting/being solicited by clients after leaving a company?

I’m an independent contractor and have recently left a company who I contracted the majority of my jobs from. Some of my old clients are calling to ask me if I would like to work for them, outside of the company, now that I’ve left. They seem relived that they don’t have to deal with the company anymore and love the job I do. A few others, however, I have solicited myself because I love them as clients and didn’t want to lose them. I really don’t want to get sued if this company finds out. What are the laws on this I did not sign any kind of non-compete agreement or non-

soliciting agreement with this company but I’m not sure what the clients have

signed.

Asked on February 20, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A former employer, contractor, etc. can solicit or work with his former employer's clients at will and freely, so long as he or she did not sign any non-compete or non-solicitation agreements--which you indicate you did not. So you have no legal impediment to doing this, but cannot use any proprietary information of the employer (e.g. you can't use their customer list; you can't propriety information of theirs about their pricing to undercut them; etc.) to reach out or work for their former clients. As long as you don't use their proprietary information, you should be fine.
If a client signed an agreement barring them from reaching out to or working with you, they could potentially incur liability  (i.e. be sued) for doing so, if they violate their agreement(s)--but their agreement(s) do not bind you, since contracts only bind the parties to them. You would not be liable.


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