Sometimes there are hard feelings between ex-employees and former employers when an employment relationship ends. Sadly, those differences too often wind up being settled in court. The employee may have committed a mistake or an improper act that cost the company business or caused significant losses. Employers also sue former employees for theft, stealing company secrets, or soliciting the company’s clients after the employee leaves the company. While employers do not always have to provide notice when supervisors fire an employee, there are cases in which employers have sued a former employee for resigning without providing proper notice.

One of the most common bases for an employer suing a former employee is the employee’s violation of the non-compete provisions in the parties’ employment agreement. Some industries are more competitive than others, which makes key employees more valuable because of their contacts with customers and suppliers. Ex-employees who leave those key positions to either start their own businesses or work for a competing company are more vulnerable to being sued for stealing trade secrets even if they have done nothing wrong.

What should an employee sued by their employer do? Call a lawyer right away.Companies have sued ex-employees claiming the former employee’s job performance was so poor or negligent that it caused significant loss of business or profits. Employees who are fired for unlawful conduct, failing to properly supervise employees, or failing to turn in important paperwork could be sued for breach of contract even after they leave the job. Companies could demand that the former employee return the salary he was paid, or reimburse the company for profits it lost as a result of the breach of contract.

Employers can be ruthless in how they deal with employees who have departed, taking clients and business with them. In lawsuits, the time period to respond can be as little as 21 – 30 days. Employees who do not respond or appear in a lawsuit can be at risk of a default judgment.

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Axis Legal Counsel defends employees who have been sued by their employers in non-compete, non-solicit, breach of contract, or breach of fiduciary duty claims, and has significant experience with anti-competitive lawsuits and disputes. For a confidential consultation, call (213) 403-0130 or email