When hunters or fishermen are referred to as poachers, they are taking wildlife illegally, perhaps in violation of state or federal conservation laws.
So if a company recruits a star employee, can that also be considered poaching, an illegal taking?
Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal featured a great article about small firms taking employees: FIRMS POACH TOP TALENT FROM RECESSION WEARY RIVALS. I would recommend you read the article.
Ms. Mattioli writes about financial – services firms taking top talent from the larger players and enticing them to smaller houses. The trend continues in retail and other industries. While some companies have had to cut back during the recession, employees may be enticed by new offers and a change in pace.
But is it really poaching to recruit someone already employed?
It may be poaching, and therefore illegal, if the employee has an agreement NOT to compete or go work for someone else.
Dan and I write about non-competes everyday. We hear from Virginians across the pay scales and various industries who are hamstrung by employment agreements.
So, here is some general advice for business owners wanting to recruit or poach talent:
1. Ask if they have a non-compete. Ask to see it.
2. Have the agreement reviewed by an attorney who can discuss the risks and costs.
3. Decide whether or not the employee is worth the risk.
If you are lucky enough to be one of those employees, you need to know whether the new company is going to pay your legal fees if you are sued. Will you still have a job?
When business relationships are defined in contract, things get complicated. Make sure you know your rights before you jump ship. I have seen more than one star employee leave for greener pastures, only to get left behind by the new employer when suit is filed.