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Letter from ex-employer

Discussion in 'Employment, Labor, Work Issues' started by gerard2006, Feb 5, 2020.

  1. gerard2006

    gerard2006 Law Topic Starter Member

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    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: CA but I live in NY

    Folks - when I was terminated 6 months ago from an employer based in CA, there was a transition agreement during which you were allowed to use the intranet. I did download some documents which I felt were pertinent to my job role and then received a letter from the internal legal team while I was still there asking me to destroy those documents and sign a letter stating I did delete them and also haven't used them for any external purposes.

    Now, few months later I get a similar letter (this time from a law firm representing my ex-employer) stating I may have mis-appropriated those documents and asking me to respond back with a re-confirmation that I haven't shared the documents with anybody as it'll be a breach of the proprietary information and inventions agreement act. They also indicate in the letter that I initially downloaded the documents while I was looking for another role or may have found a role in another company which means they are tracking who I am working for. I'm also at a competitor now and I haven't used any of the documents I downloaded since I don't have them after the deletion and the laptop was sent back to my ex-employer. However, both companies are in the same industry and do sell to a common set of clients

    My main question here is - should I engage my current employer to help me out here with any legal fees that incur or use their legal team to respond? Or will they simply not care as they aren't named specifically in the letter

    Thank you
     
  2. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Why in the world would you think that your current employer has any obligation to help with any legal fees that you may incur due to your actions while at a former employer?
     
    justblue likes this.
  3. gerard2006

    gerard2006 Law Topic Starter Member

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    Because i feel this is emanating by a motivated exec from the ex-employer who knows he may be on the brink of losing some customers to my current employer. I'm trying to see if my current employer would help with legal fees or use their legal team as at the end of the day if I didn't work for a competitor, pursuing something like this would not matter at all to my ex-employer
     
  4. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    If your ex-employer has any proof that you stole documents/data and provided it to your new employer, your new employer would be wise to distance themselves from you. The easiest way to do that is to fire you.
     
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  5. gerard2006

    gerard2006 Law Topic Starter Member

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    Understood and everything you say is making sense. I know lawsuits are expensive even for large companies. If they decide to move ahead with the lawsuit, would it be prudent of me to find employment with a non-competitor? I've heard the costs of injunction etc can be quite high even if no damages are claimed and it sounds like I'll have to pay for all legal costs myself. Thanks
     
  6. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    You're free to talk with your current employer about this, but I can't imagine why you'd incur any legal fees in connection with your confirmation that you deleted the documents. Nor could I imagine why your current employer would provide you with legal services in connection with this matter unless you're a particularly valuable employee that the current employer wants to protect.

    Rather obviously, we have no way of knowing what your current employer, whom we don't know at all, might care about.

    What lawsuit? You told us that you down loaded some stuff and then deleted the stuff on your former employer's request. You confirmed that at the time and are now being asked again to confirm. Seems pretty simple to me.
     
  7. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    If you want to eliminate all concerns about being sued, make sure you avoid doing anything that would give the other party a reason to believe you did something that violates any existing contract, written agreement, or memo of understanding.
     
  8. gerard2006

    gerard2006 Law Topic Starter Member

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    Well I don't have any data so can't use it but I do work for a competitor. I really don't want there stress of a lawsuit so should I offer them to simply go find employment elsewhere which isn't a competitor to make peace
     
  9. gerard2006

    gerard2006 Law Topic Starter Member

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    Also one local lawyer I called on a free 30 min referral site told me to come see him immediately as the ex-employer can get a search warrant. I'm not afraid of a search warrant and any seizure of my computers etc as there is nothing on them but don't want my entire home ransacked either causing a grave inconvenience to the family. Having said that, are search warrants easy to get for companies for cases like that or they'll first have to file an actual lawsuit. Sorry for thinking ahead and my basic questions
     
  10. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Call a different attorney.
     
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  11. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    It's not appropriate for anyone here to say what you should or shouldn't do. I wonder, however, why you'd even consider this if you've done nothing wrong.

    Any lawyer who told you that is an idiot who probably ought not have a license to practice. Private individuals and entities have no ability to obtain search warrants. Only law enforcement officers can obtain search warrants. I suppose it's possible that your former employer might report the matter to the police who might, theoretically, seek a search warrant. However, nothing in any of your posts in this thread suggests you committed any crime or did anything that might give rise to the probable cause that would be necessary to obtain a warrant.
     
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  12. gerard2006

    gerard2006 Law Topic Starter Member

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    Any time frames that are reasonable I should respond to this letter by and is 2 weeks ok or should be sooner?
     
  13. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    That's not a legal question, but generally sooner is better than later. If your response is clear-cut, then there is no real benefit to waiting.
     
  14. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    I see nothing gained by delaying your response if you plan to respond at all.
     
  15. gerard2006

    gerard2006 Law Topic Starter Member

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    Folks - at the end of the letter, I see this
    "CompanyName requires a signed declaration from you acknowledging any misappropriation and describing what, if anything, you have done with this material"

    Does it sound like an email to them will suffice or do you think they require a general affadavit? Again, I was initially just planning to email them this - "I have no data and hence cannot share or misappropriate it. All the data was deleted and the laptop was sent back to the company"
     
  16. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    We have no way of knowing what some unknown company and lawyer will or won't find sufficient. Start with an email. If they want more, they'll likely tell you.

    By the way, is there any significance to the fact that the thread you started at another site is titled "Sued by Ex-Employer"? It seems to be misleading given that nothing in either thread indicates that anyone has sued you.
     
  17. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    Did you destroy all paper copies and delete all electronic copies when you received this letter?
     
  18. gerard2006

    gerard2006 Law Topic Starter Member

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    when i received the email 6 months ago, yes everything was deleted and the laptop returned. There were no paper copies. Sorry the other thread says sued but no, there is no lawsuit, just a letter so far from the ex-employer
     
  19. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    Well, you certainly don't want to acknowledge any misappropriation.
     

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