Monday, April 5, 2010

Social Media Websites and Restrictive Covenants

There is an interesting article on the website today about a new restrictive covenant lawsuit involving the use of the social-networking site LinkedIn. reports that TEKsystems has accused some former employees of its Edina, Minnesota office of violating non-compete and non-solicitation agreements the individuals had signed while employed with the company. In a suit filed in federal court in Minneapolis in mid-March, TEKsystems alleged that the former employees wrongfully contacted former clients and co-workers in violation of their non-competition and non-solicitation agreements. The company pointed to the former employees' LinkedIn web pages as evidence of the breach of the agreements. The company alleged, among other things, that the former employees messaged invitations to existing TEKsystems employees and customers and included TEKsystems customers on their contacts lists. According to the article, as case law develops, (a) courts could decide whether the online connections employees make at work belong to the employee or employer, and (b) courts will have a lot of discretion in deciding whether comparable customer lists and contacts are trade secrets and whether social-networking activity can be covered by competitive agreements.