Nonsolicitation-Agreements

Non-solicitation agreements are a business contract between a South Carolina business entity and an employee, where the employee agrees not to solicit the business’ clients or customers for his/her own benefit after leaving the business.

Today more than ever, employers have hired valuable employees who are instrumental to their business or corporation. These employes do everything in their power to keep these employees from leaving and taking their skills and knowledge with them. With the current business environment of increased mobility, speed of information and how it can be distributed, decreased loyalty, and the massive amount of capital investment spent by the employer in producing intellectual property, and businesses, both big and small, are increasingly making it a requirement that employees sign restrictive non-compete agreements to discourage employee solicitation of customers.

As discussed in previous comments, South Carolina law still favors the free mobility of employees. However, along with the increased number of employers requiring employees to sign these non-solicitation agreements comes an increased number business clients that are seeking counsel from our Charleston commercial litigation lawyer to enforce these restrictive covenant. Additionally, the body of law governing the area of restrictive covenant has been changing.

South Carolina courts have no problem enforcing non-solicitation agreements that is designed to protect a bargain where a South Carolina business entity introduces customers to one of their employees on the condition that the employee will not attempt to solicit the customer if the employee leaves the company.

Non-Solicitation Agreements

Businesses have an interest in protecting their customer relationships from being compromised from departing employees. When a company introduces customers to an employee on the condition that the employee will not solicit the customer if the employee decides to leave the company, courts will then enforce non-solicitation agreements that are designed to protect that bargain. Agreements not to solicit customers or clients of a former employer are usually controlled by the same requirements that are applicable to other non-compete agreements. Courts will refrain, however, from ordering former employees from accepting business from former clients who voluntarily, and without active solicitation, contact the former employee and seek to retain her
services.

Another business interest that courts will recognize is prevention of solicitation of a company’s employees. South Carolina corporation wish to limit corporate pirating as much as they possibly can and will therefore also enter into anti-employee solicitation covenants. Courts will generally enforce these agreements by applying identical standards as other restrictive covenants, to the extent that the agreement prohibits solicitation of employees. The courts are carefully to note that these agreements cannot stop the employees from leaving and going to work for a new company.