Thomson Reuters Practical Law recently featured a Trade Secrets & Noncompete Blog post, "LinkedIn "Connection” Request Did Not Violate Non-Solicit,” authored by Peter A. Steinmeyer, a Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Chicago office.
Following is an excerpt:
In this age of social media, a frequently asked question is whether social media activity can violate a non-compete or non-solicit. Although the case law is evolving, courts which have addressed the issue have focused on the content of the communication, rather than the medium used to convey it. In so doing, they have distinguished between mere passive social media activity (e.g., posting an update about a new job) as opposed to more targeted, active actions (e.g., not merely posting about a new job, but also actively recruiting former co-workers or clients).
A “LinkedIn” case recently decided by the Illinois Appellate Court, Bankers Life v. American Senior Benefits, involved conduct which fell between these two extremes: an individual, Gregory P. Gelineau, who was contractually barred from soliciting former co-workers, sent three former co-workers generic requests to become “connections” via LinkedIn. The requests did not go further than that, but they were not purely passive in that they sent to specific individuals. Gelineau’s former employer, Bankers Life, filed suit, accusing him of breaching his non-solicitation obligation.