Bad news everyone.
Life is not always fair.
Your old employer, under Virginia law, can file a lawsuit against you alleging you did terrible things like (1) breach your contract; (2) take customer lists; (3) harm their business etc…. without ANY actual knowledge or proof that you did take their customer list or harmed their business.
That isn’t fair? You can’t file a lawsuit and allege something that isn’t true? Or can you.
Ethically, you are not supposed to file a lawsuit and allege something you know not to be true… but you can file a lawsuit and allege facts you think are true, and then spend tons of time and money trying to prove that thing…damages, breach, etc.
So many ex-employees end up in litigation and lose. It is unfair, but it is not illegal.
My question is always to the employers and their lawyers: Why are you wasting everyone’s time? Are you hoping the employee will throw a few dollars on the table and make your claim go away? Scape goat? You are so hurt by their actions that you don’t care if you can win, you just want them to suffer?
Let me ask this directly to Virginia employers:
Is it worth it for your business to spend $25,000 in attorneys fees for nothing?
What about 1 year in litigation just to prove someone breached a contract but didn’t cause you any economic harm?
Just because someone breached a contract, does not mean you should sue.
What if a terrible employee leaves and works in the industry? Should you spend tons of time and energy proving that breach harmed you?
And for employees who find themselves in this situation, here is the sad news for you. If you breach, or it looks like you did, you may get sued. Nothing you can do to prevent it… just try not to breach and don’t take anything with you when you go. That will at least decrease the likelihood of a lawsuit, although it is not a guarantee you can move on in peace.