Getting a new job is thrilling. Whether its a first job or a lateral move after years in an industry, we are usually very excited to be starting in a new position. And in that excitement, all too often people wind up signing whatever paperwork they are given without really examining it. That paperwork can include an employment contract which can bind you to behave in certain ways even after you have left an employer. One possible provision of such a contract is a “non-solicitation of clients agreement.” Such an agreement could leave you with nothing to show for years of hard work if you are not careful.
What is a Non-Solicitation of Clients Agreement?
A non-solicitation of clients agreement is an agreement in an employment contract that says that if an employee leaves the company he or she will not do business with the company’s customers. In other words, if are bound by one of these agreements and you spend years or decades building a client list, you will not be able to take those clients with you when you leave. Even if your employer had nothing to do with your landing the clients, being bound by such an agreement will leave the clients with your employer, not with you.
Non-Solicitation of Clients Agreements and Oregon Law
The law that governs non-solicitation of clients in Oregon is the same statute that governs non-competition agreements: Oregon Revised Statute 653.295. Unfortunately, while non-compete agreements are very strictly regulated, non-solicitation agreements are not. In fact, the statute specifically says that the restrictions on non-compete agreements do not apply to non-solicitation agreements. What this means is that often times savvy employers will include these agreements in contracts rather than including a non-compete agreement, because non-solicitation agreements are much more enforceable and often achieve the same goals of the employer. If there are a limited number of potential clients for the specific type of business, you could be prevented from continuing to work in your chosen industry after you leave the company if you are bound by this kind of agreement.
The potential negative affects on your ability to do business if you sign one of these agreements make it extremely important to contact an attorney before you sign. While no one likes to think about leaving a company when they are just starting a new position, most jobs do not last forever. Whether it’s because you advance in your abilities and want to move out on your own, or because the position just turns out not to be a good fit, you want to be prepared for an eventual departure.
Contact an Attorney at HKM
Whether you are negotiating a contract, considering leaving your current employment, or have already left, trying to figure out what a contract actually means can be difficult. Even if the language seems clear, sometimes terms can have different legal meanings than their standard interpretation. And even if something is in a contract, it may not have legal standing due to the laws that are in place to protect you. If you have any questions about your contract, you should contact a licensed attorney. The attorneys at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP have years of experience handling contract disputes and will be happy to discuss your case with you. We can be reached through our online form, or by telephone at (503) 398-1130.