The explosion of e-commerce and social media has certainly raised many questions around appropriate use on the personal level. We now have issues arising around the use social media in the business/competitive environment. Most non-competes and NDA’s require a return to the employer of all documents and files and info regarding client or potential clients for the company when an employee leaves.
Since Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, among others, are frequently used for business purposes, company contacts are often blended with personal contacts. How easily are these contacts separated? When an employee (especially in a sales role) leaves employment, are those company contacts removed from his/her LinedIn, Facebook, Twitter accounts? When that employee sends out a posting on social media that he/she has a new role at XYZ Company and it has some super products/services, is that soliciting from the former company’s client base? Should a company attempt to claim ownership of contact lists on a terminating employee’s social media accounts? Is use of these contacts a breach of confidentiality/non-compete agreements? How far can/should the company go?
This is, as yet, an unexplored area of the law. But, it can certainly be a cautionary tale and give us all pause to think about yet another challenge to the new world of social media!
(Based on an article in the David Goodman Madole Newsletter; Vol 14. Number 1. Author: Andy Nikolopoulos, Attorney)