If someone hears about real estate for sale as a part of their job and then after their employment ends, makes an offer on it, have they done anything wrong?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If someone hears about real estate for sale as a part of their job and then after their employment ends, makes an offer on it, have they done anything wrong?

A friend of mine was employed by a government agency and in her role she sometimes handled requests from property owners who wanted to donate their property to the government agency. The normal course was that the government agency rarely, if ever, accepted the donation of property. In one case, the property donation request was rejected as usual, the property owner was notified, and the matter was closed. Later, my friend’s employment by the government agency ended. Several weeks later, she contacted the property owner to see if they would be interested in selling the property to her. They were interested and a sale price was agreed to. My friend then told me about the deal and

asked me if I wanted to become a 25% owner. I agreed and contributed 25% into the escrow, which has since closed.Did my friend or I break any laws or rules?

Asked on July 25, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The following answer assumes your friend did not sign any sort of agreement or contract prohibiting what she did; if so, then she is bound by its terms.
In the absence of contract, IF your friend had nothing to do with decision to reject the offer--i.e. it did not meet qualifications; someone else made the formal decision to reject without that decision being based on your friend's recommendation; etc.--then since she approached the owner after the donation was rejected, she did nothing wrong.
If your friend caused the rejection, however, and then took advantage of it, that would be illegal: she violated her duty to the employer to not, while at work, operating or act in her interest, but rather to only act in its interest.

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