Depending on the nature of the job, an employee may have an obligation not to compete with their employer or to solicit their customers or other employees once they have parted ways. Generally there is no obligation to refrain from competing unless it's specifically agreed to in an employment contract. The exception to this where a former employee held a top position within an organization. The law does not lightly impose a fiduciary obligation on an employee. The existence of a fiduciary duty is fact specific and largely dependent upon your answer to these questions,
- How much authority did the person have
- How far down the corporate structure was the employee?
- Who did the employee report to?
- What (if any) managerial functions did the employee perform?
- What limits were there to the employee's authority or responsibility?
- How much trust, reliance, and dependency was put in the former employee?
Employees having a fiduciary duty have a number of obligations including,
- The former employee cannot take with them customer lists or solicit their former employer's clients business if the customer list is confidential;
- The former employee cannot divulge trade secrets;
- The former employee cannot appropriate maturing business opportunities of their organization;
- The former employee cannot make unfair use of information acquired in the course of employment; and
- The former employee cannot actively or directly solicit the employer's customers for a reasonable time following termination of employment.
A fiduciary duty can affect your future career aspirations. We can review your obligations, help you negotiate with your former employer, and advise you on the paths you have available.