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"I've got a secret!" When your employees break your confidence.

As your small business grows, you may be proud of the level of trust you have earned with your clients and customers. Not only does each interaction provide you with an opportunity to prove that trust, but it may allow you to build your reputation as a reliable business owner whose product or service is second to none.

To maintain that dependability, you have likely carefully screened any candidates for employment in your company. Customers expect the same high quality from your employees, and you entrust your workers with the tools of the trade that allow them to provide that quality. What, then, are your options when an employee breaches your trust?

Breach of confidentiality: When an employee speaks out

Obviously, your business is a success because you provide something your competitors do not. Whether it is a unique product or a service provided in an exceptional manner, you have distinguished your company by keeping a tight lid on trade secrets. You may also have a client list that you protect, both for your client’s security and for the longevity of your business.

When an employee breaches that confidentiality, your business may suffer. Clients may lose confidence in you, and your competitors may gain an advantage. Depending on your circumstances, you may have some alternatives for dealing with an employee who breaches your company’s confidentiality agreement, including:

  • Seeking criminal charges: Depending on the circumstances, the type of information your employee released and what your employee did with it, you may wish to contact the state or federal government about filing charges for theft of your intellectual property.
  • Filing a lawsuit: If the breach of confidentiality cost you and your company money, you certainly have the right to explore ways to recoup those losses and perhaps even exact punitive damages from your employee.
  • Terminating employment: Obviously, you will not want an untrustworthy employee having access to your confidential information in the future.

Termination of employment may be the least of the consequences your worker can expect after making your confidential information public.

A solid foundation

Does your employment contract contain a confidentiality agreement? Even if it doesn’t, you likely made it clear through training and by example that such discretion is an important part of employment. Nevertheless, if you have not included a confidentiality agreement in your employment contracts, you may wish to seek legal advice about making this change.

Seeking the counsel of an attorney is an ideal way to examine the options available for pursuing litigation against an employee or protecting your company with solid contracts and business policies. Because of the high value you place on trust, you will certainly want to work with a professional whose Louisiana law firm is also built on trust.

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