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A former colleague of mine, "Sheila" left (my current company, {Company A}) to work at a new, larger company {Company B}. Her contract with Company A states that she cannot recruit me to any other places to work within two years of leaving. She has told me many good things about the company, but has not actually sent me a referral to work there.

However, another friend "Todd" was chatting about how nice Company B was to work at, and I decided to use him as a referral. I am now halfway through the interviewing process and I am worried that Sheila will be confronted by Company A when they hear that I am leaving to work at Company B, where she works.

I have written correspondence from Todd showing that he was my official referral into Company B, but is there anything I can do to prevent any harassment of Sheila or myself over the issue of leaving the same company to go work for the same company within a few months?

I feel that I am legally safe, but would prefer to not have my current employer give me or my friend any trouble over this issue.

  • Which jurisdiction it is? – user58697 Jan 27 at 3:53
  • seattle @user58697 – Karen34 Jan 27 at 5:56
  • "seattle!" :) an awesome jurisdiction. This is all of no consequence - don't worry about it. – Fattie Jan 27 at 17:39
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I am not a lawyer, but I don't think you have a legal problem there. I think Sheila didn't do anything that would breach her contract, and you can easily prove that. Plus, I'd guess that Company A wouldn't take the trouble to sue over that without being able to prove anything.

However, I have heard about cases where HR from Potential New Company talks with HR from Old Company, making HR know that Employee is trying to find a new job, so then HR from Old Company tries to set Employee up for failure. It's fairly uncommon though. Sheila already went through the process of moving to Company B and it looks like that went smoothly. If you are doing an online job application, there might be a clause saying "your data will be treated with confidentiality" - in that case, you are safe and you could even sue them if they ignored it. If you just send an email, there's no such guarantee. In that case, if you feel that you can trust (preferably) Todd enough, you can tell him to discretely investigate this matter with HR from Company B and ensure that they won't get in touch with Company A.

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"She has told me many good things about the company, but has not actually sent me a referral to work there."

That probably means that she is in violation of her contract. The old company is worried that employees that leave will encourage others to join their new company. It doesn't matter to the old company that Sheila did or didn't participate in the interview. It doesn't matter to them if Sheila did or didn't refer you for a specific job. But if they believe that she encouraged you to apply, then they could have a complaint.

Is that contract that Sheila signed enforceable?: I have no idea. Is it provable?: I have no idea. Now the more employees that switch to Sheila's company the more likely they will look for the proof.

Based on your comments you are safe, becasue the contract that Sheila signed doesn't say you can't go, it just says she can't recruit others to join. But of course you may have signed a non-compete clause in your time with Company A.

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    Doesn't look like there's a non-compete clause, because Sheila was able to just move from Company A to Company B, and I would expect all contracts to be similar. Also, IANAL, but I don't think that just saying good things about one's new job counts as contract violation. Her friends from her old job are asking how her new job is, out of genuine interest, and she answers truthfully, that the new job is very nice. Doesn't sound like soliciting. If just "Company B is a nice workplace" is enough to make Company A's employees leave, I'd rather say it's Company A's problem. – V N Jan 27 at 15:48

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