You worked hard to build your business. Understandably, you do not want former employees undermining your efforts by stealing your customers or convincing your current employees to follow them to a new job.
To prevent these issues from occurring down the line, talk to an Atlanta non-solicitation agreements lawyer. The experienced attorneys at Sparks Law can help you take a proactive stance by drafting restrictive covenants for your employment contracts. If a breach occurs, our team can also help you rectify the situation.
Employers should give all new employees a manual detailing company policy. If employees are subject to employment agreements, those contracts should contain restrictive covenants, which can also be drafted as standalone agreements. Four restrictive covenants are defined under Georgia law:
Georgia law has been consistent when addressing non-compete, non-disclosure, and non-solicitation of customers. However, it was not until 2017 that the Court of Appeals clarified how Georgia businesses should address ex-employees who try to recruit their former coworkers. Our knowledgeable attorneys understand how to restrict former workers from soliciting other employees and can help draft covenants for employers.
If a former employee had material contact with customers, such as providing income tax services, they cannot solicit the client to a new company to offer the same service. Additionally, former employees cannot accept business from former employers’ customers if they know them. For instance, the employee who provides tax services at a former company but is now working at a new company could not offer the same services to a client of the old company, even if they did not prepare taxes for the client. As long as the former employee knew the customer, they cannot accept their business at a new company with a non-solicitation agreement in place with their former employer.
However, the court is sympathetic to both sides of this issue. Non-solicitation covenants must balance the rights of the employer with the former employee’s need for work. The courts restrict non-solicitation agreement to no more than two years. A skilled attorney could look over a client’s non-solicitation terms to ensure the Atlanta court will not void them.
Before 2017, the trial court sided with the employee in non-solicitation cases because it said the restrictive covenant has to be limited to a geographic radius or to only the employees the former employee knew. The Georgia Appeals Court, in CMGRP, Inc. v. Gallant, No. A17A1168 (Ga. Ct. App. Oct. 4, 2017) reversed the trial court.
The new precedent was highly favorable to employers, preventing employees from recruiting any former coworkers, not just the ones they knew. The Court also decided a geographic limit is not necessary for an employee non-solicitation covenant to be valid. This precludes a former employee from soliciting other employees no matter where they work, even in branch locations in other states.
Georgia has not amended its statutes to reflect this Appeals Court decision, although employers cite the decision in similar situations. Former employees could still object to employee non-solicitation covenants if they are too vague. To avoid a court challenge, business owners should speak with a nearby lawyer to discuss their expectations for restricting employee from solicitation.
Millions of employees move from one company to another every year without problems. Hopefully, this is what will happen with your company. However, if just one employee pirates your workforce or customer base, the resulting economic loss could be significant. To protect your business against this, retain an Atlanta non-solicitation agreements lawyer to review your contracts or draft new ones for your employees to sign. Call Sparks Law today for your initial consultation.