Approving Non-Competes and Protecting Competitive Intelligence during COVID-19
As a direct aftereffect of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, managers all over the nation have needed to choose the awful decision to terminate or cut-back or lay off employees, some of whom may be dependent upon a non-compete contract. These cutbacks are regularly a business decision dependent on the economic crisis instead of the employee’s performance. The prerequisite of non-compete contracts against laid-off or terminated employees can be challenging in any environment, yet in the current environment of mass layoffs and high unemployment, managers may face a lot of steeper climb.
In like manner, the temptation for employees to mishandle confidential information and trade secrets may also be at an unmatched high. The economic downturn suggests employees may have a more critical inspiration to mishandle competitive data the employee believes will be noteworthy at a future job. At that point, employee trust, quality, and morale may be hard to find because of anticipated pay cuts or layoffs. Merged, these conditions create a perfect storm of risk for organizations that need to take extra thought to guarantee their competitive intelligence.
Guaranteeing CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION AND TRADE SECRETS
Guaranteeing competitive intelligence is key at present. These fundamental steps can help prevent or, in the most cynical situation, limit the fallout from a departing employee’s theft. If you have serious competitive intelligence and are planning terminations or layoffs, prepare in advance as follows:
- Deal with sensitive data
Ahead of the lead-up to an employee’s layoff or termination, secure any indispensable credentials to sign into accounts that employee controlled. For instance, if the employee ran your cloud-based client management software, ensure you also access to the platform, as well as any data logged by the worker. Also, when the departure is compelling, restrict the employee’s access to all data. Conventionally, the quickest and best way to deal with this is to have an IT administrator to take responsibility for the employee’s accounts.
- Request return of credential information and trade secrets
Issue a written demand to the leaving employee to return all business-given property, including confidential information and trade secrets, and remind the withdrawing employee that the individual can’t hold or use any copies. Check if such conditions have already existed in the restrictive covenant agreement. Or if “confidential” and “trade secrets” information is described in the restrictive covenant, particularly reference those provisions in the demand.
- Investigate suspicious lead
If you suspect a departing employee of bad conduct, consider taking a look at the leaving employee’s pre-departure works out. This can be practiced with the assistance of your IT team or, then again, with the assistance of an outside vendor having some skill in the e-forensic assessment. Quest for any weird or suspicious behavior, for instance, copying of files, use of a personal jump drive, or even simply unusual access of sensitive files.
- Execute a quick hold on departing employee’s tech
If there is doubt or proof of theft, all the devices used by the employee should be kept as-is and not repurposed or reassigned to another worker. Defending is significant because any erasing, wiping, or further usage of the devices will block e-forensic assessment (which is often required in litigation).
- Make a move
If you find any theft, make a move. At any rate, make a written demand for the return of your stolen data and consider advising the employee’s new business of the theft. Courts remain open and most don’t kindly accept data theft, even in the COVID-19 condition. While you may be able to recover information through informal self-inquiries, it is on a very basic-level essential that you immediately act to shutdown known theft, including the courts when needed.
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