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Can I Get Fired for Leaking?

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By George Khoury, Esq. on May 08, 2019

For workers privy to sensitive information about their employers, it can often be tempting to leak information to the media when your company makes bad decisions. However, if you have any plans of keeping that job, you might want to think twice before leaking sensitive information, because, yes, you can be fired. And that's not all.

As the whole world has seen recently, thanks to the literal electric-car-fire that is Tesla, when employees leak information, companies can and will sue those employees. What's worse for an exposed leaker is that even if they were trying to do something good, future employers may not want to hire them for fear that their own secrets might get exposed.

Trading in Trade Secrets

Generally, stealing anything from your employer could be grounds for termination, though small things here or there, like a print out, a paper clip, or more than your fair share of granola bars from the snack cabinet, aren't likely to ever matter. But when you start taking company information home with you, like client lists or manufacturing data, and you do so for the purpose of selling it, or leaking it to the media, you're likely taking the company's most valuable asset with you.

While many employees may never sign an actual employment agreement, most employers require workers who have access to sensitive data to sign agreements, or be bound by the terms of their employment, to keep trade secret information confidential

How Will My Employer Know?

Generally, employers with sensitive data will also have sophisticated data and employee monitoring systems. Even though the data monitoring may not actively watch what employees do with the company's data, it likely keeps extensive records for review if a problem, like an information leak, is discovered. And while a media contact probably won't reveal their source, with all the tech available today, it's unlikely a company wouldn't be able to figure it out.

If you're looking for more reasons to not trade in trade secrets, know that there could be criminal penalties as well, which become increasingly likely if a leaker profits in any way from their leak.

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