In the context of a working relationship, both employee and employer have to respect certain legal obligations that arise from various sources, such as the Civil Code of Québec, the Act respecting labour standards, or the employment contract itself.
Pursuant to article 2087 of the Civil Code of Québec, the employer is bound to allow the performance of the work agreed upon, but above all has to pay the remuneration fixed.
In return, according to article 2088 of the Civil Code of Québec, the employee must perform his work with prudence and diligence, act faithfully and honestly and not use any confidential information.
This duty also covers the obligation of non-solicitation, which for instance prevents an employee from soliciting the employer’s clients, suppliers, and even other previous co-workers for his or her own benefit. The same logic applies if the solicitation is used for the benefit of someone else. Unlike non-competition agreements and obligations, this duty specifically aims at protecting the employer’s resources.
Of course, the extent of the duty of loyalty varies whether the employee is still working for the employer or not. In the first instance, the obligation is more severe, such as in the case of an executive having access to or handling sensitive information (i.e. financial reports, R&D results, etc.). On the other hand, after the termination of the employment relationship, the obligation is less severe, unless specific terms were provided in the work contract or in a termination agreement. Such terms must be limited in time.
In cases of non-compliance with the duty of loyalty, the employer is entitled to bring an action for damages and for an injunction against his or her employee. However, in the event where such duty was provided in an agreement, courts have the authority to analyze the legality of such agreement.
If this matter applies to you, do not hesitate to contact us.
The information contained in this newsletter may be of juridical nature, but does not constitute legal advice.