A common clause contained in an employment agreement that contains restrictive covenants is a non-solicitation clause. A non-solicitation clause seeks to prohibit an employee from soliciting clients, employees or business away from the current or former employer both during their employment and for a period of time after the employment ends. Like any restrictive covenant, the significance of a non-solicitation clause in an employment agreement should not be overlooked when entering into an employment relationship with an employer.
While New Jersey law disfavors any illegitimate restraint on trade, it also recognizes the importance of employers protecting their legitimate business interests. New Jersey courts will enforce non-solicitation clauses in situations when an employer can show it has a protectable interest in restricting a former employee from taking away business, customers or clients. This is because our courts recognize that an employer has a legitimate interest in protecting its clients and customer relationships, when they expend a significant investment of time, effort and money toward its clients and customer relationships.
Non-solicitation clauses can also be used to prevent a former employee from recruiting other employees to join them in a competitive business or venture. These clauses are often referred to as “anti-raiding” clauses that protect employees from a mass exodus of employees to competing businesses. This type of non-solicitation can protect an employer from a former employee recruiting their current employees and enticing them to leave their employment. The enforceability of an anti-raiding covenant will depend on the reasonableness of the restriction and the protectable interest an employer has to prevent a former employee from recruiting its current workforce.
If you have executed a non-solicitation agreement as part of your employment and are concerned that it may impact your ability to contact former customers, clients or even fellow employees, you should contact an experienced no-compete lawyer for advice before you engage in any activity that may violate the agreement. Our New Jersey employment lawyers are well versed in all areas of non compete and restrictive covenant litigation and are available to answer any questions you have concerning the facts and circumstances of your non-solicitation agreement.