Do you know about LinkedIn.com? It is a business-oriented social networking site. Founded in December 2002 and launched in May 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking. Lauren and I have our own sites on LinkedIn, and it is estimated that LinkedIn has more than 60 million registered users, spanning more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.
What does LinkedIn have to do with a non-solicitation clause in an employment agreement? Plenty…especially if you are a young professional by the name of Brelyn Hammernik. It appears Hammernik signed a non-solicitation agreement with her employer, TEKsystems, a Maryland company which provides information-technology staffing and services. The agreement prohibited Hammernik from soliciting employees of TEKsystems to leave the company.
Hammernik left TEKsystems and joined Horizontal Integration, Inc., a Minnesota company, and here is where the story gets interesting. TEKsystems has filed a lawsuit against Hammernik and Horizontal Integration alleging that Hammernik wrongfully contacted former clients and co-workers, and more unusually, that her LinkedIn page could prove it. The lawsuit alleges Hammernik messaged an invitation to a TEKsystems employee to visit her new workplace…apparently in an attempt to impress and hire the TEKsystems’ employee.
My Take: This lawsuit is the first one we are aware of which alleges a departing employee’s social network activity as evidence of contractual breach. It is a reminder to employees to be careful not to violate non-compete and non-solicitation contracts by posting to social and professional networking sites on the Internet.