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My employment is coming to an end and my current employer has added a clause into an agreement requiring me to:

  1. Delete my personal LinkedIn account, never re-activate it or access the information contained therein, and
  2. Not to create a new account, have an account created on my behalf, or for my benefit, directly or indirectly, for 6 months.

I have previously used LinkedIn to reach out to potential targets for this job, once I've gotten them interested I've taken it over to company email. The company did pay to upgrade to a premium account but I have deactivated that and all inmails sent/received will vanish at expiry date. I've no idea if they will reappear if I upgrade again in the future.

I use LinkedIn for other activities, not exclusively for work, I do voluntary work, fundraising, organise charity events, market my friends businesses, I have built up over a thousand contacts in the 6+ years I've had an account, some are friends and family, some I've met at events I've been to.

I am using LinkedIn to look for a new job, I'm also using it to apply for jobs, I expect I will need it whether I work freelance or for another employer, regardless of industry, I use it every day. If I take on a sales role I will most definitely need LinkedIn and quite likely the premium account.

Has anybody ever experienced this before? This is my personal account. I was previously an admin on the company pages but have removed myself.

This is within a settlement agreement I am being offered to end my employment. They have offered an additional amount on top of the settlement amount (less than 1 week salary) if I agree to this clause.

I don't know if the settlement offer will still be on the table if I don't agree to the clause. I must add that any contacts I reached out to during the specific activities using inmails paid for by the company are in a spreadsheet that the company have.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – enderland May 28 '15 at 18:43
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    I'd be willing to consider it, but the amount they pay would have to justify it. Honestly, less than a week's salary wouldn't even be the rounding error... – NotMe May 28 '15 at 19:43
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    NEVER DO THAT!!! Short and simple. It is your personal account. It is pretty much like telling you to not search for an additional job. – Luis Masuelli May 28 '15 at 22:33
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    Less money than you could make in 5 days in exchange for never being allowed to use LinkedIn in your life. What a deal! – Superbest May 29 '15 at 1:57
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    Consider the chances that someone with the same name as you opens a linkedin account, and suddenly you get sued. I thought my name was quite rare, yet there are five linked-in accounts with the same name. – gnasher729 Aug 23 '15 at 11:40
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I'm assuming you are taking this agreement to a lawyer before signing, right? This is a business and employment contract, and this no-LinkedIn clause is a built-in provision which will allow them to sue you for money damages in perpetuity - that means that by the wording of the contract they can sue you on your deathbed if they claim you EVER re-activated the LinkedIn account for any amount of time, or if they just claim you must have accessed the information "therein" even though that information is already inside your brain? Foooooreeeeeevvvveerrrrrrr...

For all that is holy, do not agree to that!

After consulting legal counsel, I'd suggest you sign an agree to their settlement - with that clause crossed-out and a note that you politely decline their additional offer clause. You'll just take regular settlement, thanksmuchloveyouguysbyebye.

Honestly, if they were offering you a year salary it would probably be a bad idea to accept the offer, though for that much money I'd be tempted to point out that if they want you to sign so bad surely they'd be willing to pay a lot more, right? Might as well throw in your own clause demanding they mow your lawn ever 7th Sunday while you are at it.

On the other hand, if all they are willing to offer is a pittance of 1 week salary, I'd infer they don't really care about the clause that much at all, so I doubt they'll freak out if you politely decline. If they really, really want it (I wonder if it contains proof they did something illegal or was a violation of a contract?), then they can get rid of the nonsense "forever and ever and ever" clauses, vague language about "using the information", etc - convert it to a proper no-contact/non-solicitation clause for 6 months, pay you a reasonable amount of money for agreeing to it after your job is already coming to an end, and be done with it.

But whatever you do - don't agree to the settlement + IdiotClause as it is worded now!

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    solid advice + Foooooreeeeeevvvveerrrrrrr --> youtube.com/watch?v=MmRYccuXWNA -> +1 – Austin Burk May 28 '15 at 16:17
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    I think the monetary compensation amount is intentionally arbitrary. I feel that they made it something so that if it went to court, they could say that the OP agreed to the compensation for the request. – Jane S May 28 '15 at 20:47
  • Depending on the country, such a clause is likely to never be enforced by a court/judge. IANAL, of course :) . – Radu Murzea Sep 19 '16 at 15:13
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Send back an objection. Let your employer know that your LinkedIn account is NOT a company LinkedIn account, that it's your personal LinkedIn account, and that you are using your personal LinkedIn account as a vital tool in your job search. Offer, as a reasonable way to resolve the issue, to have him review the content of your LinkedIn account for anything that he deems inappropriate and that affects him.

Personally, I am not nuking my LinkedIn account no matter who asks me. The first time I worked on it, it took me a month to put it together and I've been fine tuning it for the last 3+ years. And yes, I've hundreds of connections that I have accumulated over time and for a substantial percentage including my references, my LinkedIn connection is the only way I have to communicate with them.

If the employer still presumes to require me to delete my personal LinkedIn account, I am ignoring his mandate. Passive resistance. He can take me to court over that if he wants.

In response to your edit: you should say, as part of your objection, that you should be deemed eligible for the extra amount because if you had a COMPANY LinkedIn account, you would have no compunction about deleting it. And that your personal LinkedIn account does not, so far as you are concerned, fall within the purview of the draft agreement. Frankly, the draft agreement should be reworded to exclude your personal LinkedIn account, which you are clearly using for your personal purposes.

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    According to the question the employer has ASKED him to delete his account, and offered extra money to do it. I don't read anything that says they REQUIRE it. – DJClayworth May 28 '15 at 14:02
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    @DJClayworth - Right in the first sentence: "current employer has added a clause into an agreement requiring me to 1. Delete my personal LinkedIn account, never re-activate it or access the ..." – Vietnhi Phuvan May 28 '15 at 14:22
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    @VietnhiPhuvan Agreements need to be signed before they go into effect and changes to agreements need to be approved by all applicable parties (although I'm sure there are legally questionable exceptions). If it's mentioned in an unsigned agreement, you can just not sign it. If it's mentioned in a change to an agreement, you can just reject or negotiate the change. The only point where you're actually required to do what it says is when you formally agree to the terms. – Dukeling May 28 '15 at 16:21
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    "I've been fine tuning it for the last 3+ years" -- note that some people, not necessarily similar to your case in any way, have discovered themselves vulnerable to claims that social media accounts in their names are the product of their work for the company. It should be obvious that telling someone "spend the day improving your linkedin account" is analogous to "spend the day practicing French": the employee will take the benefits with them when they leave. I don't think it is obvious to all employers though. – Steve Jessop May 28 '15 at 16:55
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This is such a bizarre request that I fail to see what your employer hopes to gain from it. From the things you have written it is clear that your LinkedIn account is valuable to you, and while it's up to you, I wouldn't agree to those terms for a week's pay. Plus I personally like to take a stand against corporations who think they can control your entire personal life.

What I would do is ask your employer what the ultimate aim of such a request is? Maybe there is another way you can accommodate their wishes or allay their fears without deleting your account. Do they want to make sure that customers of theirs don't contact you via your LinkedIn site in your new role and be subject to poaching? Are they worried that many of their employees are going to follow you wherever you go, and want to prevent them from find out where your new job is?

The fact that they have offered this as an additional sum of money means it's probably not an integral part of the main agreement. But you will have to ask.

If they identify what they are trying to achieve, maybe you can make another accommodation for them. Or not. it depends on what the answer is and what you feel like doing.

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    I'll bet my pinky finger that this is an attempt to apply a non-compete/non-solicitation element to his employment agreement that they didn't have in place when OP was hired. – Kent A. May 28 '15 at 14:45
  • I've heard rumours of this sort of thing before, I expect it's a side-effect of the fact that people use linkedin to contact the questioner in his capacity as an employee of the company (or at least the company thinks they do). The company wants to minimise the chance of that happening. You'd think the fact the profile says they now work someone else would mostly do the trick, but take off and nuke the account from orbit, it's the only way to be sure. – Steve Jessop May 28 '15 at 16:52
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    @SteveJessop That's what I'm figuring too. In which case the OP signs an agreement to pass on anyone who contacts him through LinkedIn about the company's business TO the company. If he wants to. – DJClayworth May 28 '15 at 16:58
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This is within a settlement agreement I am being offered to end my employment. They have offered an additional amount on top of the settlement amount (less than 1 week salary) if I agree to this clause.

I don't know if the settlement offer will still be on the table if I don't agree to the clause...

Ask them. Tell them you object to the LinkedIn clause and offer to forego the extra money to strike that clause from the contract. Apparently the clause is only worth about a week's pay to them. (I would also add that they apparently recognize that such a request has little legal merit, so they're enticing you to agree to it voluntarily.)

If they take the whole settlement off the table over this, then you will need to decide whether the settlement is worth giving up your current LinkedIn asset.

If you decide to drop your LinkedIn account, be sure to copy the contents to somewhere safe so you can put it all back in there, and reach out to your former connections, as soon as you are able to get back in.

  • Alernatively, make a counter-offer like ten weeks salary in exchange for deleting your LinkedIn account. See if they accept. – Carson63000 May 29 '15 at 1:46
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    Nah, ask for 6 months' salary, since they are wanting you to not only delete your personal LinkedIn account, but also not create a new one for that long. "You want me to drop out of this professional community for six months? OK, then pay me for those six months, and then I'll start my job search after that." – Dan Henderson Jul 6 '15 at 15:14
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I would weigh the future incoming potential versus this one week salary.

Why?

LinkedIn is a valuable tool for finding a job or forming connections which help you achieve things in life professionally. What if you don't meet a potential hiring manager because you're not on LinkedIn? What if you start a business, but can't find any venture capital because they are all on LinkedIn?

The difference in future earning potential between having a LinkedIn account and not having a LinkedIn account could be a lot. Unless you either earn $10,000,000/year or are one month away from retirement, I would wager the future earning potential is far more than one week's salary.

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This is within a settlement agreement I am being offered to end my employment. They have offered an additional amount on top of the settlement amount (less than 1 week salary) if I agree to this clause.

I would not sign.

In 2012 after working IT in a hospital for 4.5 years I was laid off. They gave me a severance of about four weeks' salary and my remaining PTO. My separation documents included an additional (2 or 3 weeks' salary IIRC) for signing a clause absolving my employer of any liability, so I couldn't sue them for losing my job.

My wife worked a clinical role in the same facility, so once I verified that her career was safe, I signed it--she still works there.

To their credit however, they made clear that the receive a bonus for not suing us clause was independent of the remainder, and I was free to not sign if I chose.

You can certainly find another job without your LinkedIn account, but if they were so concerned their intellectual property might get tied up in an account they can't control, they should have considered that possibility sooner. Their short-sighted use of your personal account is punctuated by their paltry offer of a couple days' pay to guarantee its benefits don't follow you out the door.

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