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Tina, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 8184
Experience:  JD, BBA, recognized by ABA for excellence.
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I am a Pilates teacher about to go on maternity leave, and

Customer Question

I am a Pilates teacher about to go on maternity leave, and not returning to the studio I have been teaching at. I also have my own Pilates business. The studio I have been teaching at hired me knowing I have another personal Pilates business. I have a non compete clause in my contract with this studio stating that I "will not solicit clients to other locations and/or studios in the area unless the studio is under agreement with (this studio)." My question is, if, after I return to working at my own personal business after my maternity leave, a client from the other studio seeks me out of their own accord, legally, with this non-compete clause, am I bound to turn them away?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.
Am I correct in my assumption that your agreement does not actually define the term "solicit"?
I very much look forward to helping you on this matter.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes, there is no definition.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. In that case, most courts will apply the dictionary definition which is (with insignificant variation): "To ask for or try to obtain (something) from someone." If a client comes to you, then you re not asking them for their business or "trying" to obtain their business. Therefore, you are not engaging in "solicitation" and therefore are not in breach of your agreement. The one caveat I will note is that certain courts in OTHER states have interpreted "solicitation" to mean any taking of clients, regardless of who made the initial contact. However, my research of cases in Oregon does not reveal that an OR court has ever taken the same approach. It could happen, but that would be unlikely. In short, an OR court would most likely conclude that a non-solicitation agreement is not breached where the client is the one to affirmatively seek out the services of the party who promised not to solicit their business. However, the caselaw in certain other states suggests the alternative result, and so it is impossible to predict the outcome of a breach of contract lawsuit with 100% certainty. As is often the case in legal matters, you must calculate the risk and act accordingly. I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further. If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.