Courts are generally more lenient in interpreting the language of a non-solicitation agreement, which seeks to preclude an employee from soliciting or providing services to a company’s customers, compared to a non-competition agreement, which generally seeks to preclude the provision of services in a geographic region, regardless of to whom they are provided.  The Western District of Virginia reinforced this with a recent ruling in TechINT Solutions Group, LLC v. Sasnett, 2018 WL 4655752 (September 27, 2018), in which the Court ruled that a Virginia-based drone company could seek to enforce a non-solicitation agreement and entered an injunction against an ex-employee.  The non-solicitation agreement at issue precluded the employee, who was an intelligence specialist providing advice on drone technology, from “solicit[ing] to provide or provid[ing] any Competing Services to any Client of the Company.”  “Competing Services” was defined as those provided, offered or marketed by the Company during the employment, and was not limited to only those services performed by the employee himself.  “Client” was broadly defined to include any entity, including any government department or agency, to whom the Employer had provided services or marketed during the last twelve months.  Due to a conflict with management, the employee resigned from his employment and, within a week, took a job working for one of the company’s clients, and the employer brought suit for an injunction against the employee.  The employee argued that the covenant was overly broad because it barred him from “providing any ‘intelligence analysis’ services to any governmental entities to which TechINT has ever marketed.”  Notably, this is an argument that has been persuasive in other cases.  Here, however, the court disagreed, finding the clause to be specific, not overly broad and, thus, enforceable.  This case reinforces the importance of both employers and employees carefully reviewing employment agreements before executing them, and retaining an experienced employment lawyer to assist with drafting, analyzing and negotiating any restrictive covenant.

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