Under a non-compete agreement, am I in violation if a former client contacts me of their own free will for my product and services?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Under a non-compete agreement, am I in violation if a former client contacts me of their own free will for my product and services?

I am under a 24 month non-compete agreement from a prior employer. I have opened my own business and a prior client of whom I have no prior knowledge of was referred to me for my services. I have not solicited anyone from the prior employer, nor contacted any prior clients. If a client contacts me from the prior employer for a quote, services or product of their own free will am I in violation of the non-compete?

Asked on September 20, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It depends on the terms of the non-competition agreement; such agreements are contracts, and like all contracts, what you can and cannot do is based on their specific language or terms. Such an agreement might only bar you from soliciting clients--in which case, if you can prove they reached out to you, you would be ok. But the agreement might also bar you from working for or with any present or former clients of your employer, in which case you'd be in breach and they could sue you for monetary compensation and/or for a court order barring you from working for this client. Or the agreement could bar *any* competition with your former client, for 24 months--i.e. no doing the same or similar work in the same "market" as they do--and again, you'd be in breach. Any of these different contractual variations are legal, so the only question is, what is covered by your non-competition agrement. You have to look to the specific terms of the contract and compare them to this situation to see if you are in breach.

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