Question: Hi, Alan. I am a dog groomer, and have been working for my employer for four years. I suffer daily from harassment on the job, so I’ve decided to go into my own business.

I am thinking of telling the clients (the owners, of course, not the dogs) that I will be leaving soon, and giving them my new contact information.

Is that legal? 

         Connie
         Bangor, Maine

Answer: Hi, Connie. Unfortunately, what you are contemplating doing is not illegal – that is, it can’t get you arrested –  but it is a violation of your legal duty to your employer that is “implied” in the law, which means it could get you sued by your present employer. 

While you are an employee – up until the very moment you leave – you are supposed to be loyal to your employer. Doing things against your employer’s interests – such as trying to take clients with you – is disloyal. You could get sued for acting against your employer’s interest, while your employer is paying you.

However, the moment after you leave your present employment, you are free to compete with your employer for clients. It is at this time that you can contact the clients, and offer your good services.

Hope this helps. Hope, too, you take “the plunge” into being in your own business. I did that a few decades ago, and I am thrilled that I did so.

Russell Sprout, my Jack Russell Terrier, says, “Woof,” too. He said you will know what he means.     

          Best, Al Sklover

© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.