Stephen Kaplan, P.C.

Can a pandemic put business trade secrets at risk?

As a business owner, the assets you need to protect reach far beyond your cash flow. Your intellect is the foundation for your concept; your trade secrets make your business model unique.

If authorities do not consider your employees essential, you likely wonder how you will handle potential layoffs. You would be wise to think about how you can protect your trade secrets as well.

Five considerations for letting employees go

Your employees must have a working knowledge of your business operations to complete their roles and responsibilities. Unfortunately, you could experience a significant setback if your proprietary information is shared.

If you must make life-altering decisions regarding the people who earn a living under your employ, you must mitigate risk in the process. Some of the measures you may want to take include:

  • Conduct exit interviews to get a sense of workers’ intent
  • Request the return of all equipment and job-related information
  • Leave your employee computer systems as they are, in case you need to establish a claim of misappropriation
  • Provide terminated workers with a written reminder of their continuing obligation to protect your trade secrets
  • Disable employee access to your business systems

There may be nothing you can do to keep your workforce employed during this season of social distancing. Unfortunately, laid-off workers might try to find a job with one of your competitors or look for ways to retaliate.

Severing employee relationships is always difficult, though global health concerns may dictate those changes. However, handling business matters legally and ethically should not interfere with your right to protect your interests.

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