Game Changer? LinkedIn Messages As Evidence in Non-Compete Case

Did anybody else read this most recently emailed NAPS Legal Update for June?

If you haven’t, you should. Doesn’t matter if you are an owner or a producer on a desk, this could be a game changer, and for much more than just LinkedIn messages and contacts.

In this email which NAPS Legal Counsel Bob Styles typically sends out on a monthly basis, tucked between two updates that didn’t have much application to my desk/business, was the below two paragraph notice about a yet to be adjudicated case titled “LinkedIn Messages As Evidence in Non-Compete Case:”

Did anyone else just feel the ground shake?

It doesn’t take much of an imagination to wonder about who then “owns” LinkedIn contacts? And by
extension Facebook, Twitter
, and for that matter any social network/media contacts that one compiles
in pursuit of success as a search/sourcing/recruiting professional while in someone’s employ.

And please don’t misinterpret my intentions for bringing this up. I do not believe that anyone who signs a non-compete should EVER violate that agreement. If you leave one employer to work for another employer or to start your own business, do it the right way, take the high road, and honor your non-compete. If you are that good, you don’t need to do anything illegal to get started on your new job or your new business. EVER. Period. There is always enough OTHER business out there for you.

Still, this case will bring up a whole new set of questions our profession, its owners, producers and lawyers
will need to address. Not only can messages on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, now likely be used as evidence that you violated your non-compete, it can’t be long before “ownership” of those contacts comes into question as one leaves a job as a search or sourcing professional to begin a similar one somewhere else or on their own.

That’s why, in my mind, is case could become a game changer for how search professionals will use and manage the online social networks and social media tools that are now considered essential to success as a modern day sourcing and search professional.

What do you think?

I sure hope Mr Styles, Esq, will keep us up to date on how the case is finally adjudicated.

Oh, and for those interested, you can see the full Legal Update at because, as of this writing, NAPS

informative missives. I hope they will change that someday soon as they update and revise their new web presence. does not yet archive these

I would love to read your thoughts on this, you can share them below.

Jeff Skrentny, CERS, had an inauspicious start in the search/recruiting profession as his first placement quit after 93 days. Then he was sued by his client. Despite that start, Jeff has been a thriving executive search entrepreneur for the last 23 years; and has also been a trainer, author and motivator for his profession for the last 15 years, as well as a business consultant and advisor for its producers, managers & owners for the last 10 years; all while still running his search business, Jefferson roup Search, in Chicago. Please check out my blog for search entrepreneurs and search professionals at

Views: 146

Comment by Chaser on June 25, 2010 at 10:55am
Wow I have been wondering about this for the last couple of years and I must say it certainly concerns me...Very interested to see how this plays out. Thanks for the heads-up Jeff!
Comment by Bill Ward on June 25, 2010 at 1:42pm
Non-competes are BS (IMHO). Nike tried that when we recruited their CIO Gap years ago. They sent a threatening letter to the candidate which was never acted upon.

I think the key thing to remember here is that anytime you use the internet, an electronic record is generated. Why do people even use Linked as the communication medium once they have generated the names of people they want to contact? Take it offline, use the darn phone and develop the relationship like a normal human being for crying out loud.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention Jeff!


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