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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
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    7

    Default Independent Contractor's Right to Compete

    The background: I received a call from the owner of the pet-sitting company I work for on Friday, asking my opinion on an e-mail she sent me(told me I was not allowed to use a particular pet-sitter who had recently resigned). When I told her I disagreed(I'm an IC in Maryland and have a right to choose who works for me), she went ballistic and demanded that I turn all my keys in right then and there. She promptly called my regular clients and told them that we had problems negotiating a new contract. I handed over all of my client's keys to her(she said she was liable) that night. I then called some of my clients who were on my schedule for the next few days and let them know I was no longer working for that company, but that she had their keys, so before they needed someone to come they needed to make sure the keys were where they wanted them. I did let them know I was still a pet-sitter, but for a different company(I didn't reveal the name unless they specifically asked).

    The legal stuff: The last contract I signed expired 1/31/04. I have not signed anything since then. That contract said we were allowed to work for other pet-sitting companies. It also said 30 day written notice had to be given for termination without cause. With cause was effective immediately...but there were only 2 things that were considered with cause and I didn't fall under either of them. I did nothing to any clients/pets, nor was it my decision to leave. She was satisfied with my work.

    My concern: She verbally asked me to not slander her company name or call any clients until she has done so. Since she won't tell me when she calls them, I gave her the weekend before I started calling the non-essential(ones that didn't have any upcoming bookings). She said she is sending a legal document that says I'm not allowed to "solicit" or slander her name..."just so it's in writing". Again, I have not signed anything. Tonight she called me and told me Soliciting is contacting any of the clients period. She already threatened to sue another pet-sitter for solitcitation, so I'm worried that's what she's going to try on me. Can she do this? What legal rights do I have?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    25,709

    Default Re: my rights

    Did the contract you did sign have self renewal clause and was there anything concerning non-compete?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: my rights

    There was nothing about a self-renewal clause. Also, the non-compete clause said you could work for another pet-sitting company while still working for her company.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: my rights

    Word for Word:

    "IC Services. This agreement does not prohibit IC from engaging in similiar services for the general public or other pet sitting companies or in the hiring of employees for performing services."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    25,709

    Default Re: my rights

    Sounds like she is full of hot air although that does not prevent her from at least filing a lawsuit. It may be some hassle but without any protection due to a contractual agreement, she has no claim.

    I think I would be out calling all of your prior clients.

    You may be able to actually push the issue for 30 days pay since she failed to give you a 30 notice of termination without cause. As a matter of fact, she breached the contract by terminating due to her attempted control of your employees. If she wants to demand this much control, she needs to be aware of the differences between an independant contractor and an employee. Control is one of the biggies in deciding which one applies.

    Personally, I would simply take all the customers I could. That would be all the payback I would require.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: my rights

    Thank you for your help. I figured she had no recourse, but I just wanted to make sure.

    Does calling someone and only telling that you're still a pet-sitter(since she refused to tell them that unless they asked) constitute solicitation?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    25,709

    Default Re: Independent Contractor's Right to Compete

    If it is an attempt to solicit, then it is solicitation. If you are having coffee and want to let some friends know what you are up to, then probably not.

    If you are calling old clients and telling them you are still in the biz, it is basically solicitation. Why else would you be calling them? If you were not soliciting their biz, why would you call them.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Independent Contractor's Right to Compete

    I called them because some had scheduled visits in the very near future and I wanted to make sure they knew the situation(I had some clients who said they hadn't been contacted by her yet). I didn't ask any of them for business, just wanted them to know their options, because she wasn't revealing that I was still in the business. She had also asked them not to call me.
    Is it illegal to Solicit?

    Thank you for your help!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    25,709

    Default Re: Independent Contractor's Right to Compete

    Quote Quoting frog
    View Post
    Is it illegal to Solicit?

    !
    It depends upon what you are soliciting

    Generally no. In your situation, since the contract does not seem to restrict you from doing so, it would be no problem.

    By your actions, I would see it as soliciting but so what? Your contract did not restrict you from soliciting.

    I didn't ask any of them for business, just wanted them to know their options
    I would presume one of the options you informed them of was with you pet-sitting for them. Again though, so what.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    3

    Default Independent Contractor's Right to Compete

    ok i am new to this forum so bare with me.

    i recently quit a pet sitting company to start an independant one.
    i signed a contract with a non-compete agreement.
    Several clients want to retain my services that are no longer clients of the former company i worked for due to irreconcilable differences. and several also
    that are still with the former company want to retain my services as well. is there any way around this non compete agreement copy:

    Non compete agreement:

    As an employee of X Pet Services, you must agree that you will not solicit nor accept any offers from any clients of X Pet Services for the purpose of performing services for such clients independent of your association and employment with X Pet Services, whether or not you are an employee of X Pet Services. You understand that if you do so, X Pet Services may be irreparably harmed in an amount to be determined by a court of law.
    This includes any clients obtained for services thru your own efforts as an employee/representative of X Pet Services.

    For the purpose of this agreement, “client” shall mean any person, firm or entity for whom X Pet Services, its agents, employees or assigns have performed services at any time during the period of two (2) years preceding termination of your employment with X Pet Services. In addition, you agree that you will not remove any client lists, files, records or any documents or materials related to X Pet Services without
    X Pet Services’ prior written consent. In addition, in the event of termination of your employment with X Pet Services, you agree to return to X Pet Services any and all documents, supplies and/or materials which are the property of X Pet Services or its clients and which may have been removed by you for any reason or purpose.

    can someone help me out? i really appreciate any input

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