Former Employee’s Updated LinkedIn Page Did Not Violate Non-Compete Agreement; Another Employee’s E-Mail Blast Did
January 25, 2014 – Employment
An employee entered into a non-compete agreement with her employer which included pro-hibitions against competing with the employer and soliciting its employees. After she left her em-ployer and went to work for a competitor, the employee updated her LinkedIn page to reflect her change in employment. This had the effect of notifying her more than 500 LinkedIn professional contacts, many of whom were clients of her old employer, of her new position. The prior employer sought a preliminary injunction, asserting that the updated LinkedIn profile constituted “solicitation of business in direct violation of … [the ex-employee’s] non-competition agreement.” A Massachusetts state court rejected the prior employer’s application for injunctive relief in KNF&T v. Muller, No. 13-3676-BLS1 (Mass. Super. Ct. 2013), finding “no evidence” that the employee had violated her non-compete agreement. As the court indicated in a footnote, it did not view the LinkedIn update as soliciting business competitive with the former employer.
By way of contrast, a federal appellate court in Boston held in Corporate Technologies, Inc. v. Harnett, 731 F.3d 6 (1st Cir. 2013), that an e-mail “blast” message that a former employee sent to his former clients announcing his new position constituted “solicitation” of those clients, in breach of a prohibition contained in this ex-employee’s non-compete agreement.