Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Can I contact clients from my former employer?

THE QUESTION

I recently left my company to start a business. We do not directly compete with my ex-employer but we are in the same space. They must not be pleased because I received a legal letter from their lawyers telling me not to contact their clients. I never signed anything that said I could not compete or contact clients.

Should I stand down or do they have a case against me?

Story continues below advertisement

THE ANSWER

Unless you signed an agreement that unequivocally prohibits you from competing or contacting clients for a reasonably defined period of time, you are generally allowed to do so. There are a couple of narrow exceptions to this rule, such as misusing confidential information that you kept from your former employer (for instance, a client contact list) or where you held such an important role at your former employer that they are particularly vulnerable to your actions after departure.

Unless you are doing something wrong, and it does not sound like you are, then there is no reason to back off.

THE QUESTION

What is the difference between statutory severance pay and severance pay? I'm terminating an employee and don't have a payroll size that requires me to pay severance, but I'm still being told that I have to pay severance. Why?

THE ANSWER

There are two different types of "severance." Statutory severance pay is just a minimum. It is like a minimum wage. Employees can be (and most often are) entitled to more than the statutory severance pay, just like they are often entitled to more than minimum wage.

Story continues below advertisement

This greater entitlement, which can be much larger than the minimum statutory amount, is also commonly called "severance" and because the name is the same, it can be confusing. However, this payment is still legally required in most cases and is not dependent on payroll size.

Daniel A. Lublin is a partner at Whitten & Lublin, representing both employers and employees in workplace legal disputes.

E-mail: Dan@canadaemploymentlawyer.com

Have a question about careers, labour law or management? Send it to our panel of experts: careerquestion@globeandmail.com Your name and address will be kept confidential.

Report an error
Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨