Brent M. Giddens
Carlton DiSante & Freudenberger LLP

Once an employee is hired then what?

A question I typically get is once an employee is hired, then what? What sort of documents do you need to have them sign? What sort of steps do you need to go through to make sure you are protected? Not only from any future litigations potentially but also to make sure your business is protected. One thing I find employers often over look is that they don't take adequate steps to protect their intellectual property. That is what is it about your business that makes you competitive? What is it that sets you apart from other people in the market place? Is it your technology? Is it your methods of production? Is it your distribution network? Is it your customer base? Whatever it is, there's something, some gem that really makes your company stand out from another and once you share those company secrets with another employee your putting yourself and your company at risk that perhaps someday that employee will leave, take those company secrets and use them against you. Now of course that is illegal to take trade secret information and compete with a former employer however it can for that former employer to prosecute that employee or to litigate against the employee if that former employer didn't have proper documentation in place to begin with. And so I strongly recommend having trade secret agreements or proprietary information agreements in place to make sure that the valuable assets that you spent so much time and money and effort developing don't walk out the door with an employee when they leave. And if that employee does leave and they do use it to compete against you unfairly then you will have grounds even in states such as California where non-completion agreements are unenforceable, even in states like California and others that do have prohibitions you're still going to be able to enforce your right not to have your trade secrets stolen. You might not be able to prevent them from competing but you can definitely prevent them from taking the fruits of your labor and turning it against you.