Mass exodus of bankers prompts lawsuit

According to news reports, a large group of Florida commercial banking employees at Seacoast Bank suddenly quit their jobs without notice on Dec. 26 to begin working at a rival bank in Orlando called One Florida Bank. Some of the former employees allegedly stole customer information from Seacoast to try to attract customers to the new bank, prompting a lawsuit by Seacoast against One Florida Bank.

The lawsuit alleges that Seacoast Bank lost half of its employees, including all of its managers, in the mass exodus. Seacoast asked the federal court judge for an injunction to prevent the former employees and One Florida Bank from possessing or using the customer information that had been taken from Seacoast by the workers.

One Florida Bank said that it will comply with the court’s order and that it simply hired several experienced bankers who were at-will workers. Out of a team of 25 commercial bankers at Seacoast, 12 resigned without notice. Seacoast also alleges that the employees stole trade secrets that it had spent more than six months developing.

While at-will workers can quit their jobs without notice, they may not steal the confidential information of their former employers to provide to their new employers. Companies that have had their confidential information or trade secrets stolen by their former employees to help competitors might want to talk to experienced commercial law attorneys. The lawyers might engage in business litigation to protect their clients’ information. They might also represent their clients in lawsuits to recover damages against the companies that took the employees and used confidential information to obtain a competitive advantage.