In the employer/employee context, confidentiality agreements (also referred to as non-disclosure agreements) generally prevent employees from disclosing confidential company information for the employee's own personal use or to aid a competing business. To be clear, confidentiality agreements are different from non-compete clauses (as discussed in Griswold Law's recent article). Non-compete clauses generally prohibit employees from conducting business in direct or indirect competition with the employer. As we have mentioned in Griswold Law's previous article on these clauses, they are illegal in the state of California. However, confidentiality agreements do not prohibit an employee from conducting business in competition with an employer or with a former employer. These agreements merely prohibit an employee's use of the employer's confidential information and/or property in conducting business with the competing company.
Most employment agreements will clearly and thoroughly describe the type of "confidential information" that is protected. Some examples of items include, but are not limited to, trade secrets, sales and profit figures, customer lists, contracts with customers, computer disks, drawings, ideas, research, etc.
If an employee violates the confidentiality agreement, an employer's typical remedy is to seek an injunction which will prohibit the improper use of the confidentiality agreement. The employer may also seek monetary damages resulting from such improper use of their proprietary information. There can be a lot of questions and uncertainty when the issue of confidentiality and employee agreements arise. Griswold Law has extensive knowledge and experience navigating these employment issues and we can help you find the answers you need to come to a quick resolution with your employee or employer.
If you have any questions about confidentiality agreements (non-disclosure agreements) in the context of an employment relationship, please contact Richardson "Red" Griswold of Griswold Law Receiverships today.