When can Trade Secrets be Disclosed?

Trade SecretsDo you know the inner-workings and trade secrets of your company, and suspect the company is operating in violation of the law? Are you reluctant to share company secrets for fear of facing federal, private, or civil action for trade-secret misappropriation? You are in a difficult spot: A good employment attorney may be able to help.

The Defend Trade Secrets Act

The DTSA protects trade secrets associated with products and services used in foreign or interstate commerce.  It affords U. S. businesses both protections and legal remedies for the misappropriation of proprietary information. This relatively new federal law provides a uniform way to view the definition of trade secrets, statutes of limitations, and intellectual property.

What is a Trade Secret?

The DTSA intentionally defined trade secrets rather broadly:

“all forms and types of financial, business, scientific, technical, economic, or engineering methods, techniques, processes, procedures, programs, or codes, whether tangible or intangible, and whether or how stored, compiled, or memorialized physically, electronically graphically, photographically, or in writing if

  1.     The owner thereof has taken reasonable measures to keep such information secret; and
  2.     The information derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally know to, and not being readily ascertainable through proper means by, another person who can obtain economic value from the disclosure or use of the information.”

What is “Misappropriation?”

The DTSA is quite specific as to what constitutes a misappropriation:

  • The attainment of information by improper means;
  • Obtaining information from someone who had the duty to protect it;
  • Knowingly acquiring a trade secret that was discovered by accident.

SnapChat Trade Secrets Lawsuit

One former employee is suing SnapChat, claiming that the company pressured him to reveal proprietary information about his former employer, Facebook. The employee, Anthony Pompliano, was terminated three weeks into his employment allegedly because he was incompetent. Pompliano claims he was lured to the company under false pretenses and was asked to share secrets about Facebook operations. Had he done so, he may have been subject to federal penalties.

Trade Secrets Sharing – Remedies

A number of remedies are available in the event of trade secret sharing:

  • Civil seizure;
  • Injunctions to prevent potential misappropriations;
  • Royalty payments, exemplary damages, and other damages.

[Read more…]

Workers Compensation and OSHA Whistleblower Protection Laws

whistleblower protection lawsWorkers Compensation and OSHA whistleblower protection laws. A previous blog post detailed the Security and Exchange Commission’s efforts to assist workplace whistleblowers. It’s not just the federal government, however, that protects whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers. California has its own whistleblower laws – including a statute protecting employees who testify in workers’ compensation cases, and another statute protecting whistleblowers in cases involving Occupational Safety and Health.

Workers Compensation

Section 132a of the California Labor Code states it is the declared policy of California that there should not be discrimination against workers who are injured in the course and scope of their employment. It provides protection to employees against any employer who “discharges, threatens to discharge, or in any manner discriminates against any employee because he or she has filed or made known his or her intention to file a claim for compensation with his or her employer.”

Many California employers are aware of this prohibition on discriminating against employees who file claims, but are unaware that the law also protects employees who testify in workers’ compensation cases. The statute goes on to say:

“Any employer who discharges, or threatens to discharge, or in any manner discriminates against an employee because the employee testified or made known his or her intentions to testify in another employee’s case before the appeals board, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and the employee shall be entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by the acts of the employer.”

The statute also prohibits insurers from encouraging employers to fire, or otherwise discriminate against, employees who are willing to testify in cases before the appeals board.

Occupational Safety and Health

Section 6310 of the California Labor Code states, “No person shall discharge or in any manner discriminate against any employee because the employee has done any of the following:

1)    Made any oral or written complaint to the division, other governmental agencies having statutory responsibility for or assisting the division with reference to employee safety or health, his or her employer, or his or her representative.

2)    Instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or relating to his or her rights or has testified or is about to testify in the proceeding or because the exercise by the employee on behalf of himself, herself, or others of any rights afforded him or her.

3)    Participated in an occupational health and safety committee established pursuant to Section 6401.7.”

Under Section 6310, employees who have been subjected to this type of discrimination are entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by the acts of their employers.

Whistleblower Protection Laws and Legal Representation for Employers and Employees

If you believe that you have been subjected to discrimination based on your willingness to testify in a workers’ compensation case, or your willingness to make complaints about Occupational Safety and Health, you may wish to speak to a Santa Rosa whistleblower attorney about your rights. If you are an employer, and you want to ensure that you are in compliance with the above laws, you may also need legal advice. The labor attorneys at Beck Law P.C.  employment and labor law attorneys at Beck Law P.C. in Santa Rosa can give you the counsel you need. You can call or email our office today.


The information on this website should not be considered to be legal advice, nor construed to be the formation of any manner of attorney client relationship. Prior to taking any form of legal action, please consult with an attorney experienced in the appropriate area of law germane to your situation. Case results and testimonials presented on www.californialaborandemploymentlaw.net or any of its related websites are germane to the facts present for each individual case and is not a promise of similar outcomes for any other cases. This website is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the State of California.