If you are an employee or employer in Virginia who wants to know the latest news on Virginia employment contract and tort cases, you should follow a blog written by PCT Law Group in Northern Virginia. While I suspect they do more work for companies than we do, they publish a most relevant summary of Virginia cases.
One such case they have written about recently was the Tryco case in Fairfax County.
Summary of the Facts:
Finds new job with direct competitor.
Takes customer list and vendor contact sheet with him to new employer.
Company 1 (ex-employer) finds out about list and tells him to give it back. ASAP. He does. He didn’t even mean to take it and didn’t do it using improper means (or so the Court said.). List is not shared with new co.
Holding (this is legal speak for what the Judge says):
It is not a violation of Virginia Trade Secret Act because the customer list wasn’t a trade secret.
The guy could have re constructed it himself by proper means. Furthermore, he didn’t mean to take it thus no improper means which the code requires.
Lastly, I wonder, did they have actual proof of damages or was this a case motivated by something else?
I am guessing this is one of those cases motivated by the scapegoat rule. Make an example out of an employee and try to get them to apologize, or get their new employer to pay up.
I am pleased to see the new employer did not pay up. I hate blackmail lawsuits. You know, the type where someone sues a company and hopes they will throw some money at your lawsuit.
Here is the moral of this case.
EMPLOYERS. Don’t sue just because you are mad.
You may waste good money on attorneys fees and not win your case.
Furthermore, your attorneys may not be telling you how bad your case is because they get paid by the hour.
The burden of proof for these business torts is very high and then, just then, you have to prove financial harm. If you can’t meet this burden, you may be wasting time and money to chase an old employee.
So that is a report on yet another employee victory in the Commonwealth!