Yes. Provided you have not signed an enforceable covenant not to compete after you depart from your former employer, the law will support your right to join a competitor, and to use your skill, experience and knowledge in your particular industry.
Broadly speaking, there are two exceptions to that rule. The first occurs if you have signed a restrictive covenant that typically provides that for a stated period of time within a restricted geographic area you will not work for a competitor. Courts generally frown on these types of covenants and review them strictly, as it is generally against public policy to prevent somebody from working in the industry in which they have experience. The second exception is that the law provides that a former employee has a duty not to compete unfairly with his or her former employer. In that respect, the use of confidential information or material belonging to your former employer is not permitted, as it would provide you with an unfair advantage and corresponding disadvantage to your former employer.
Generally, the law is simply seeking to strike a balance between the rights of former employers and individuals to co-exist after the employment relationship ends, in a manner which is fair to each.
Submitted by Norman Grosman, Senior Partner, Grosman, Grosman & Gale - Employment Lawyers. This article was originally available at workopolis.com and has been reprinted with permission.
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