How to Discuss Confidential Company Documents
Every business has confidential data or processes that give it advantages over its competition. These might include customer lists developed through significant expense and effort, special product designs and pricing formulas, codes systems, and other inventions. The law protects business by making these documents and processes private, so that competitors can’t easily access them.
There are a lot of administrative documents that need to remain private. They could include detailed seating plans, office layouts and internal procedures. There could also be confidential data on customers, including sales numbers as well as confidential data from vendors. Last but not least, you may have personal information about employees, like tax forms and pay stubs.
A nondisclosure agreement is the most effective method to safeguard confidential company documents. You must be very careful in defining what information is confidential and when drafting your contract. Be very specific so that you do not prevent employees who are currently employed or former employees from like it later claiming they did not realize the information was protected under confidentiality policies.
Also, be clear about the duration of the nondisclosure agreement. It’s not binding in the event that the period of protection exceeds what is reasonable to protect the company’s legitimate or “protectable” interests. Generally, the courts will look at the circumstances and decide what is reasonable. If you are concerned about a particular employee, think about offering the promise of a raise or promotion in exchange for signing the agreement. This may be sufficient to dispel any allegations that you didn’t know the document was confidential.