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I got an offer of a full time employment from an employer…

I got an offer...

I got an offer of a full time employment from an employer where I have been working for last 2.5 years as a contact employee. But I have a contract to my current employer where one clause (in previous offer letter ) says that I can't join to a direct client of my current employer as a full time employee. So if I ignore that clause, what legal action my current employer can take ? and what is the likelihood of escaping that legal action?

Lawyer's Assistant: Because employment law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?

The work location is in Minnesota but my employer's office is in New Jersey

Lawyer's Assistant: Has anything been filed or reported?

No not yet... i did not inform them about my plan yet

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

Did u read my problem statement ? please read this I got an offer of a full time employment from an employer where I have been working for last 2.5 years as a contact employee. But I have a contract to my current employer where one clause (in previous offer letter ) says that I can't join to a direct client of my current employer as a full time employee. So if I ignore that clause, what legal action my current employer can take ? and what is the likelihood of escaping that legal action?

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Answered in 4 minutes by:
3/13/2018
Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20,575
Experience: Employment/Labor Law Litigation
Verified

Thank you for trusting your question to JA today. I am a licensed attorney with over a decade of law practice and over 20 years of experience in the legal field. I’m happy to be of assistance. (The system will automatically generate a phone call request to you. Unless I specifically state, during our discussion, that a phone call is possible, I intend to just use this chat format as I am not in a position to accept a phone call).

That depends on whether or not you signed a non-compete agreement with the current employer. If you did, your restrictions would be outlined in that agreement and you'd be restricted normally for a period of a year, but it may be longer or shorter. It couldn't too much longer, or it would not be enforceable.

If the agreement is enforceable, meaning it isn't too long, there is almost no chance of getting out of it unless the employer lets you out. Courts enforce these agreements when they are properly drafted and narrow in scope. If you have this signed agreement, they can sue you and ask the court to force the newer employer to fire you.

Now, if you didn't enter into any agreement like that, it is possible that your current employer makes all of their clients sign an agreement stating that they can't hire you. Then the enforcement wouldn't be against you, but the contracting company and courts would enforce that as well.

If you have any further questions or other facts that you would like me to consider, please let me know. I invite follow up questions, so use REPLY for those. If you have no further questions then good luck going forward and please do not forget to rate my service with a three, a four or preferably a five star rating so that I receive credit for working with you today. Please rate me based on my service and not on your satisfaction with the law, which I am not in control of and I am just reporting to you. Please DON’T rate my service until after you have asked any follow up questions that you have, so that I have the best opportunity to earn all 5 stars. Also, feel free to request me in the future, if you have questions concerning a different matter.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thanks for your help but I can't remember if i signed any contract when I left New Jersey 2.5 years back. Only I discovered in my offer letter ...there is a clause that I can't join to the client as full time ...Here the scenario is my employer is not direct vendor of this client. There is another one company in between. The client who wants me to join as full time has already convinced the middle vendor that the middle vendor will not do anything. But the question is if my employer takes any action against me as I am the person who is breaching the contract ...
please ask me if I am not clear somewhere.

How long ago did you leave the last employer?

2.5 years ago?

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
no .. i am still working with them ...they are still my employer but I got the offer letter 2.5 years back ... now I am working at their client site . The client wants to hire me ... the middle vendor does not have any problem

Just trying to figure this timeline out.

You left NJ, but you worked there 2.5 years ago. You are still connected with that employer.

Ok. I've answered the question to the extent that I can without knowing if you have a contract. If you have a contract with them that is a non-compete, they can try to enforce it. If you don't, then you can do what you want. I can't find out for you if you had a contract.

If the employer takes against you, it will be you and the new company that would be breaching the contract.

You'd be breaching the non-compete and the new employer would be engaged in something called tortuous interference with that agreement between yourself and your current employer.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
These are the two clauses in offer letter . Are these non-compete ?

The offer letter is not a contract. It isn't a non-compete either. It is just referring to their rule. However, to enforce the rule, you would have to have entered into a separate agreement.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
39;The offer letter is not a contract. It isn't a non-compete either.'
is this applicable for any state ?
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
is that is the contract then what possible legal action they can take ? they will force my future employer to fire me ? or will they force me to join in their company ? or they may ask for money ?
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
because it was not mentioned in offer letter that what possible legal action can they take ?

It is applicable to every state. An offer letter is not a contract unless you sign it and return it. Then it can become a contract.

If you just received that letter and that's it, it isn't going to be enforceable.

However, if you signed something agreeing to that term, then it is enforceable. Part of enforcement is suing you in state court and asking the court to require specific performance, which would require you to quit or require the client to terminate your employment with them during the restriction period (1 year).

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
If I would have signed any contract i would have a copy right? Means is it legal that only the employer has the copy but not the employee ? ( Because I don't have has anything like that but truly I don't remember where did I sign ...)
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
I have signed on the offer letter to accept the offer ... but u said offer letter is not a contract , right ?

I don't know if you would have a copy. You don't legally have to have a copy, so perhaps you won't.

I said that just an offer letter, without a signature, is not a contract. Many employers send out offer letters and there is no place for a person to sign and send it back. It is just information and that is not a contract.

If you signed something and returned it, it then can be contractual. That's not just an offer letter. It is an offer letter with an endorsement of it, which can make it contractual. If you did sign that offer letter, you endorsed it and you are under the non-compete agreement.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
I have accepted that offer hence signed on the last page of the offer letter . I was in NJ at that time and I was in their office .... so this is an contract as i had endorsed it ... So they can sue me for joining to the client .... so if they do, is there any way to get escaped ?
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
generally what is the legal action employer may take for breaking non-compete agreement ?

No, there is not.

Many people believe that a contract can be broken or gotten out of through some legal loop hole and that is really just a myth. When a contract is unenforceable, it is because something is wrong with the agreement itself. This is agreement is fine. The language is simple and it doesn't reach too far, like trying to restrict you for 2 or 3 years. It is short in term and only applies to clients you are working with, so a court will absolutely enforce this agreement.

You can be sued in court and the court for specific performance of the agreement to not compete, meaning the court can order you to resign from the client. The court can also order the client to fire you, if you don't resign. The employer can sue for damages, meaning any money that you made with that client which you would have made for the employer, had you worked for them.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Almost done, One more thing. Hope u have read the two clauses I have shared. Here the situation is the client is not a direct client of my employer . Some company X hired me from my employer, and company X sent me to work for this client . So still will be enforced ?

The language of the agreement says client, client's client or end client where employee rendered services.

That's pretty inclusive and would apply in your current situation.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
ok .... so I am legally bound to not join to the client where I am planning to join. right ?

Yes, based on what you have told me and the language of the agreement you signed.

Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20,575
Experience: Employment/Labor Law Litigation
Verified
Allen M., Esq. and 87 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thanks a lot

I see that you rated my service as "ok" and requested a second opinion.

While I certainly can endorse asking for a second opinion, can you please explain to my why my service was just "ok?" I addressed numerous questions for you, reviewed your contract language, asked you numerous questions to get as much information as possible and then gave you the legal answer to your question.

I have to admit, I feel like you are punishing me for being honest with you about the law.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
nope ... it was an accident to click on that button ... sorry

Ok. I just wanted to make sure that I had answered your questions and that you did not have anything further that you needed.

Take care.

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