You have trade secrets that help make your business competitive or profitable. Maybe you have a proprietary salad dressing recipe that you gave to the cook who works in your restaurant. Perhaps you have a unique process for home repairs that allows your technicians to do work much more quickly than any other company could.
To protect your company’s profit margin and market share, you probably have workers with access to your trade secrets sign non-compete agreements as part of their employment contracts. These agreements limit what your worker can do when they leave your company. Usually, they cannot work for a competitor or start a competing business in the same industry unless they wait a certain amount of time or leave the geographic area.
What do you do when a former worker violates their non-compete agreement?
You will probably have to go to court
A non-compete agreement is part of your company’s contract with a worker. Once they leave your company, you have very few options for enforcement other than the civil courts. After all, they won’t care about a write-up if they already have a new job elsewhere.
You can file a lawsuit against the worker for their breach of contract when you discover them misusing your trade secrets. Any evidence that you have of them using your trade secrets will help strengthen your claim in court.
In some cases, a worker may agree to stop certain behaviors that constitute unfair competition under your non-compete agreement to stay out of court. Other times, you may have to litigate to hold them accountable.
Knowing when to initiate business litigation can help you minimize the impact of an unscrupulous former worker on your company.