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I have a dilemma I want some advice on, I am currently working for a company that I am leaving, and co workers of mine want to come with me to my new place of employment. But my current boss is threatening to sue if I “poach” his employees and offer them a job working with me at this new company.

Is that a thing ? Can I get in to any legal trouble in Michigan for offering a position at the new company?

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    You have not provided us enough information, to even determine, if their threat is something they can enforce. However, even in regions with high employee rights, poaching employees is typically something not allowed. At the end of the day, anyone can sue anyone, so if you are sued you have to defend your actions even if the case is eventually thrown out.
    – Donald
    Commented Jul 27, 2023 at 21:57
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    I appreciate your comment, I’m just not finding laws regarding poaching unless a non solicitation agreement of sort is signed, which I don’t believe I signed anything of that regard. The employee that I would be referring to the new employer, is going to leave of his own fruition, and I am simply offering a position Along side me at the new business I am being hired into. Commented Jul 27, 2023 at 22:07
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    Questions asking for legal advice always get shut down or moved. You'll have to spend the $100 or so on a consultation with a real lawyer. Or ask ChatGPT. Commented Jul 27, 2023 at 22:12
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    @Manufacturingbuff2014 - I can guarantee you that the output of ChatGPT is incorrect. What most jurisdictions have done is allow companies to prevent employees from taking other employees with them but specifically prevent companies from concluding to NOT recruit each other employees.
    – Donald
    Commented Jul 27, 2023 at 23:06
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    @Michael McFarlane: Don't tell people to ask ChatGPT, even in jest. They might think you're serious. Commented Jul 29, 2023 at 20:47

3 Answers 3

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Is that a thing ?

It sure is. Most companies have an non-poaching provision that's part of the employment contract that you signed when you started. So first things first: READ YOUR CONTRACT.

Your contract should spell out clearly what you are allowed and not allowed to do. If you are not sure, you can have a lawyer explain it to you and also assess whether its enforceable and in compliance with local labor laws.

Typically it says something like "you cannot actively solicit current employees for employment elsewhere for XXX period of time".

What that means is you can not ask people to come with you. However, there is absolutely nothing that prevents current colleagues to send in their resume to your new employer out of their own volition.

co workers of mine want to come with me to my new place of employment

If they initiated the conversations, that's perfectly fine. Just tell them to send in their resume as they would to anyone else and don't actively participate in any recruitment process (or whatever your contract says you can or cannot do)

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    Thank you for the info! That is exactly what I was wondering. I am in no way requesting them or suggesting them to come work with me at this new facility, any employee that asks, I tell them to apply (I’m not a recruiter or hiring manager so I won’t have anything to do with the hiring process) most of us are friends on a personal level so that’s why my current manager is threatening it. Commented Jul 28, 2023 at 0:50
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    Even if legal, the current employer is well within their rights to not allow it during work. If you want to talk about it with your current colleagues, do it after you left the parking lot, in your own time.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jul 28, 2023 at 7:25
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    @nvoigt - A public parking lot. The parking lot of a private building is still company property.
    – Donald
    Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 1:41
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    @Donald That's why I said "after you left the parking lot".
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 5:06
  • In many countries a lot of things that are commonly written in employment contracts are not enforceable. So just because something is in the contract doesn't mean it should be taken at face value. Check with a lawyer or at least do your own research. Companies add these kind of things either because the contract is outdated or they don't know better, but in most cases to intimidate and deter employees from doing things they don't like. For example many German labor contracts have a clause that forbids employees to discuss their wages, although courts have nullified this.
    – seg
    Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 22:30
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A lot of this depends on many things. They include:

  • State employment law
  • Your agreements with your current employer
  • The industry of the new employer and perhaps yourself
  • How the employees are hired at the new company

Are you in a position to actually offer your coworkers a position? Do you have an ownership stake in this new company or work in HR? If not then it is doubtful that you can be personally liable.

If you forward the resumes of your collogues to HR/management and they decide to extend them an offer then it is highly unlikely you could be held liable. Furthermore if you are leaving for more money and better working environment, which I feel is likely, then of course your collogues will be motivated to do the same. It is hard for a lawsuit to have traction if the new job is just better.

Given the threat of poaching it sounds like there is no violation of conflict of interest.

To me, this simply sounds like a grumpy boss in a business that has been underpaying their employees for years. A new business rolls into town with an ownership structure that understands people are motivated by money. Sure pizza parties once a quarter are nice, but a 10% raise is a hell of a lot better.

To be sure consult a lawyer, but I doubt you have anything to worry about unless you are the one actually making the employment offers. If you are such, then consult a lawyer immediately.

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    If you are not a hiring authority at this new company, it’s very unlikely that the court will be happy with the opposing counsel, if they had a problem with you simply forwarding a resume to the hiring authority of another company. Likewise, if you are a hiring authority, I wouldn’t try to poach employees while still works for the company. After you have left the company your under no obligations.
    – Donald
    Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 1:40
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Since you are a co-worker and not their boss at this or company or the new one, I don't think there will be any clause in your contract (even if you have a contract), that will be relevant to your situation. You are not even hiring them.

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