The Illinois Appellate Court recently affirmed a circuit court order granting summary judgment that held that emails containing invitations to connect on LinkedIn did not constitute solicitations in violation of a non-competition agreement.
The dispute arose when Gregory P. Gelineau, former employee at Bankers Life and Casualty Company, allegedly attempted to recruit three Bankers Life employees by sending them LinkedIn requests to “connect,” thereby violating the non-compete provision in his employment agreement with Bankers Life. These requests, Bankers Life alleged, would induce its employees to click into Gelineau’s profile where they would see job postings for Gelineau’s new employer.
The Illinois Appellate Court faced the issue of whether Gelineau’s LinkedIn activity was of a nature that constituted passive social media communications, or rather active, targeted recruitment.
In its analysis, the Illinois Court explained that while there have been varying results in cases around the country addressing whether social media activity violates non-compete agreements, the different results reached in these cases “can be reconciled when looking at the content and the substance of the communications.” In the instant case, the Court noted that Gelineau’s LinkedIn requests did not mention Bankers Life or his new employer, did not suggest that the recipients view a job description on Gelineau’s profile, and did not solicit the recipient to leave Bankers Life and join Gelineau’s new employer.
Accordingly, the Court held that such LinkedIn activity did not constitute the actual, direct recruiting necessary to violate Gelineau’s non-compete clause.
 Bankers Life & Cas. Co. v. Am. Senior Benefits LLC, 2017 IL App (1st) 160687-U, ¶ 22.