Employees leaving one company to work at another is nothing new and just a part of the working world. However, some businesses could be negatively impacted if an employee leaves and takes clients with him or her to the new place of work. This is why many companies here in Georgia require employees to sign an employment contract with a noncompete agreement. If the worker violates the contract, a business may be forced into litigation to resolve the issue, as one local broker recently discovered.
The broker at the center of this case used to work for Fidelity Brokerage Services. He left to take a job with competitor Merrill Lynch earlier this year. He now stands accused of trying to convince clients he worked with at Fidelity to take their services to his new employer. Fidelity claims that the contract the broker signed with them stipulated that he could not solicit clients from them for at least one year following his change in employment. Five clients allege that the broker reached out to them to convince them to change brokerages.
Fidelity filed suit against the broker and Merrill Lynch over the alleged contract violation. The suit contains a request for a temporary restraining order against the broker for contacting his previous clients. It also seeks an order requiring the broker to return any and all customer records, whether they are physical, virtual or from the broker’s own memory.
This case highlights just how important it is for businesses here in Georgia to have a comprehensive employment contract for workers. It protects valuable business information, customer privacy and even gives employees clear-cut guidelines for handling a transition to a new job. Any business who wants assistance drafting any kind of business-related contract may want to work with an attorney who can ensure that all necessary details are included.