caltradesecrets.com

Archive for the ‘Employee Mobility’ Category

Third Circuit Affirms Award of Damages in Misappropriation of Trade Secrets Case and Denial of Recovery on Injunction Bond After Employee’s Partial Success on Appeal

In Customer lists, Employee Mobility, Injunction Bond, Third Circuit on September 20, 2010 at 6:52 am
Seal, United States Court of Appeals for the T...
Image via Wikipedia

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the district court’s award of damages against employees on a claim brought by their former employer for, inter alia, misappropriation of trade secrets.  Latuszewski v. Valic Financial Advisors, Inc., No. 08-1511, 2010 WL 3582434 (3rd Cir. Sept. 15, 2010).   Former employer, VALIC Financial Advisors, Inc., bought claims against former employees Gary Latuszewski and James Rogan alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of trade secrets, and tortious interference with contract. Id. *1. Employees appealed arguing that this award was in error and also that the District Court erred in declining to award them damages under VALIC’s injunction bond after this court vacated part of the District Court’s temporary injunction against them. Id. Read the rest of this entry »

Immediate Steps to Take Upon an Employee’s Departure for a Competitor

In Employee Mobility, Investigations on September 17, 2010 at 2:57 pm
Security camera at London (Heathrow) Airport. ...
Image via Wikipedia

Richard C. Darwin posted a useful summary and reminder of the steps an employer should take once an employee has decided to pursue an opportunity with a direct competitor.  Darwin recommends the following nine common-sense precautionary measures to be taken right away to reduce the risk of lost or deleted evidence:

  1. Secure the defecting employee’s computer and make sure no one uses it.
  2. If the IT department recycles backup tapes, immediately suspend that practice.
  3. Check the former employee’s office or workspace for missing documents and files.
  4. Get copies of the tapes or electronic files if the building has security cameras. Read the rest of this entry »

Employee Has Viable Tameny Claim Against New Employer for Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy When Terminated by New Employer, Who Cites Alleged “Understanding” Between Old and New Employer to Honor Old Employer’s Noncompetition Agreement

In California Appellate Opinions, Employee Mobility, Wrongful Termination on August 3, 2010 at 8:59 am
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 16:  Singer Hayley...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

While this next case doesn’t deal directly with trade secrets, it addresses a common fact pattern in the employee mobility arena.  The Second District Court of Appeal in Silguero v. Creteguard, Inc., — Cal. Rptr. 3d —-, 2010 WL 2978222, *1 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. July 30, 2010) decided the issue of whether a terminated employee working in the area of sales has a viable claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy under Tameny v. Atlantic Richfield Co., 27 Cal. 3d 167 (1980), against her subsequent employer when the employee’s former employer contacts the employee’s subsequent employer and informs it that the employee had signed an agreement with the former employer which prohibited the employee “from all sales activities for 18 months following either departure or termination,” and the subsequent employer terminated the employee’s employment out of “respect and understanding with colleagues in the same industry,” notwithstanding its belief that “non-compete clauses are not legally enforceable here in California .”  Silguero, 2010 WL 2978222, *1.

Citing California Business and Professions Code section 16600’s legislative declaration of California’s “settled legislative policy in favor of open competition and employee mobility” (Edwards v. Arthur Andersen LLP (2008) 44 Cal.4th 937, 946 ( Edwards )), we conclude that the employee has a viable Tameny claim.”  Silguero, 2010 WL 2978222, *1.
The Court cited the alleged “understanding” between the old employer and the new employer to honor the old employers noncompetition agreement.  The new employer Creteguard admitted in writing that it entered into this understanding with the old employer, “although [the new employer] believe[d] that non-compete clauses are not legally enforceable here in California,” because the new employer “would like to keep the same respect and understanding with colleagues in the same industry.”

The Court reasoned that this alleged understanding is “tantamount to a no-hire agreement.” Silguero, 2010 WL 2978222, *6.  The Court concluded that such an “understanding” between the new and old employer “would be void and unenforceable under section 16600 because it ‘unfairly limit[s] the mobility of an employee’ and because [the old employer] ‘should not be ‘allowed to accomplish by indirection that which it cannot accomplish directly.’” Silguero, 2010 WL 2978222, *1 (citing VL Systems, Inc. v. Unisen, Inc., 152 Cal. App. 4th 708, 716-17 (2007).

[P]ermitting a Tameny claim against Creteguard under the circumstances of this case furthers the interest of employees in their own mobility and betterment, “‘deemed paramount to the competitive business interests of the employers, where neither the employee nor his new employer has committed any illegal act accompanying the employment change.’” (Dowell v. Biosense Webster, Inc. (2009) 179 Cal.App.4th 564, 575, quoting Diodes, Inc. v. Franzen, supra, 260 Cal.App.2d at p. 255 [in Dowell, both employees and their current employers sued a former employer to invalidate a noncompetition agreement].)  For all of the foregoing reasons, we conclude that Silguero has pleaded a viable Tameny claim against Creteguard predicated on the public policy in section 16600.

Id. *6.

The Court created a new avenue of liability for employers, who must now carefully decide how to respond to cease and desist letters from old employers.   Creteguard would almost certainly have fared better had it avoided the unnecessary editorializing in its termination letter.

By CHARLES H. JUNG

Enhanced by Zemanta