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Q.

This question was answered based upon current rules, regulations & statutes in effect on September 16, 2016

Hi Dan!  We recently hired a person in our PL Customer service department who speaks fluent Spanish.  As a result, she developed a substantial following of family, friends and miscellaneous clients at her prior agency.  Her family, etc want to follow her and to date one or two have tried to come over and of course the prior agent is threatening legal action.  Her ex-employer has no Spanish speaking employees and is creating a bit of a communication gap.  What are your thought?

A.

Dan Foley:  I read the Employee Non-Compete Agreement.  First off, the period of 3 years withing a 30 mile radius, if challenged in court would probably be declared void by a court of law, in my opinion.  Essentially, the agreement, when you read the second paragraph, would deprive the employee of earning a livelihood in the insurance business.  Protecting the agency's proprietary information is fine - trade secrets, customer lists etc.  But the 3 year/30 mile radius is questionable and in recent court decisions, these types of previsions have been thrown out.  Certainly, courts make decisions on a case by case basis.

In addition, a customer can choose to do business with anyone they want to do business with.  I believe that the Consumer Protection Laws of the Commonwealth provide for this.  So if these Spanish speaking individuals who want to do business with your new employee, I would say that they could do so.l  'm sure that they would be willing to sign an affidavit that says that your new employee did not solicit them for business but that they chose to do business with her.

I hope that this helps.  I'm not sure how you can prevent the former agent from bringing legal action.

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