Our attorneys have extensive experience in the negotiation and litigation of disputes between employers and employees. Frequently these disputes are part of a larger controversy about rights to trade secrets, confidential information, patents and other intellectual property. Our expertise in intellectual property law provides a solid foundation for handling these often complex and occasionally bitter cases.
Our business clients have a strong interest in protecting the assets that make them successful, including good employees, goodwill, confidential information and intellectual property. Where the departure of an important employee creates a risk of potential loss or damage to company assets, such as goodwill or trade secrets or other confidential information, we move aggressively to protect our client’s rights. Alternatively, in representing a departing employee, we use vigorous advocacy to ensure that he or she can use their skills and experience to the fullest extent provided by law.
Employer/employee litigation may take place in either state or federal court. We have experience with the enforcement of covenants not to compete against former employees, cases involving misappropriation of trade secrets by former employees, and a wide variety of general employment issues. In general these cases follow the standard course of pleadings, paper discovery, depositions, expert reports and depositions, dispositive motions and trial. In a number of cases, however, the former employer seeks a preliminary injunction against competition and/or use of confidential information by the former employee and his new employer.
Because employee non-competition agreements typically have one- to two-year durations, the result of the preliminary injunction hearing will likely determine the outcome of the case. An employer who secures the injunction will have protected itself against competition by the former employee. Where the employer fails to obtain the injunction, however, the employee is free to continue with his or her new employer. Absent trade secret misappropriation issues, the cost of litigation is likely to be disproportionate to remaining issues of damages and hence the case will be in condition for settlement after the injunction ruling is handed down. On the other hand, where a serious misappropriation of a trade secret claim has been asserted, failure to obtain an injunction at an early stage may not deter the plaintiff from proceeding to litigate the case through trial, despite the expense, since the stakes may be substantial in terms of lost profits or other damage to business interests.
If you would like further information concerning employer/employee litigation issues, or would like to consult us in connection with a particular matter, please contact an attorney in our Litigation Practice Group.