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LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 37440
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
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I was laid off on July 31, 2013 as the company i worked for

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I was laid off on July 31, 2013 as the company i worked for cosed the office. I was paid 6 weeks severance. I am now employed at a new company in the same field (print and Promotional sales) I have called on the clients that I worked worked with for over 10 years.
My old employer has not sent ma a letter to stop all contact with their clients. Do I have to cease calling on the clients? Also they want me to sign a paper saying I will stop all by August 29, 2013

Thank you,


Good morning Donald,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation, and the confusion. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today. In order to give you a clear and concise answer, I will need some additional information about the circumstances, please.

1. What sort of work are you doing?
2. Did you ever sign an agreement (non-solicitation agreement) not to take the customer contacts you have and use them in a competing business against your former employer?
3. Did your former employer let other competitors know who your company's customers were?


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

1) I am in customer service & sales

2) I signed a seperation agreement when I left so I could get my sevberance.


3) I do not know if they did or not.


I can email you the sereration agreement and the letter I received yesterday.

Hi Donald,

If you have a computer file of the agreement you can attach it using the paper clip icon in the message box tool bar. Otherwise you will have to contact customer service to arrange to get it to me. I cannot receive emails directly from you.

But it probably isn't necessary that I see the who document.

I only need to know if you signed an agreement not to use or disclose trade secrets and/or company information you gained while working there.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes I did.


But I only called on theclients and did not disclose secrets and / or company information.

Good morning,

Thank you for the additional information.

I'm very sorry, but by contacting the clients, you violated the contract with your former employer. Not only that, because you did so for your new employer, if you do not cease doing so as demanded in the form letter---and it is a form letter because their attorney specifically drafted it for them to send out before they incur legal fees fin suing their former employees-----they will in all likelihood sue both you and your new employer.

I'm afraid that your employer is not legally savvy and they should be concerned about the letter, as should you.

While not relevant, it is important to understand that the term right to work state refers to the fact that you cannot be forced to join a union in order to work---nothing more. It has nothing to do with whether it is legal to appropriate customer lists from one employer and use them for the benefit of a later employer.

Now, CA does not allow is a non-compete agreement which would prevent you from going to work for a competitor. So you cannot be told that you cannot go to work for a competitor in CA---like you can in virtually all other states. However, your former employer's client list, contact numbers and contracts with the customers are considered the property of your former employer and you can be sued for interfering with the business relationship they have with their customers, and for theft of trade secrets based on your use of the information you have acquired while working for the former employer.

If you want to avoid being sued, then I would strongly urge you to cease all contacts with the customers of your former employer, and sign the document stating that you will cease doing so. If you are sued, you can bet that your present employer will be sued right along with you. You will likely be terminated as your employer's attorney will suggest that they must do that to show good faith and you will probably end up having to defend yourself against the lawsuit. Further, you won't be eligible for unemployment benefits in this situation.

If you have additional questions, you may reply back to me using the Reply to Expert link.

I understand that you may be disappointed by the Answer you received, as it was not particularly favorable to your situation. Had I been able to provide an Answer which might have given you a successful legal outcome, it would have been my pleasure to do so. Please understand that I have no control over the how the law impacts your particular situation, and my sole purpose is sharing this with you is to try and keep you out of trouble.

Please also keep in mind that, even though you have already paid your deposit money over to JustAnswer, until you rate me highly for my service, I will not be paid for having assisted you with your questions.

I wish you the best in your future.


LawTalk and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

Thank you for your positive rating of my service, Donald. It has been my pleasure to assist you and I hope than you will ask for me on JustAnswer should a future need ever arise.

Please feel free to bookmark the following link so you can request me to answer any future legal questions you may have:

Thanks again.


When you receive your Customer Satisfaction Survey from JustAnswer, please do rate me highly (9-10) there as well. It would be tremendously appreciated.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you