Allen Roberts, a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice, in the New York office, was quoted in an article titled “5 Questions To Ask Before Suing Over Whistleblower Theft.”
Following is an excerpt:
Workers sometimes pocket employer information they think may support a whistleblower claim, putting trade secrets and other sensitive data at risk and leaving the employer wondering if legal action is the right response. While companies should stand up for themselves, they also should be aware of potential pitfalls, attorneys say. ?…
Allen Roberts, co-chair of Epstein Becker & Green PC’s whistleblowing and compliance subpractice group, says companies should “tread cautiously” and craft responses appropriate to the specific circumstances before them. But there’s no reason to take employees helping themselves to trade secrets lying down, he added.
“They shouldn’t be passive,” Roberts said of employers. “When there’s been something wrongful, that constitutes an inappropriate taking, especially of confidential information or trade secrets. There’s no reason to be permissive of that.” ?…
And in some states, including New York, an employer can use a common-law principle called the “faithless servant” doctrine to go after workers and make the argument that it stopped owing the worker any compensation when the worker engaged in a disloyal act, Roberts notes.
Self-help discovery is a frequent occurrence, Roberts says, but that doesn’t mean employers should simply accept it as a fact of life. Instead, they should take action consistent with what’s allowed under the law and the precedent interpreting it in their particular jurisdiction, he advises.
“It’s still wrongful, and it still should be addressed as appropriately as the statutes involved, and the interpretations of the law in the forum, allow,” Roberts said.