Some people unknowingly invite litigation into their lives. Those people usually do a few of the 10 mistakes I am writing about this month.

Here are mistakes 3&4 that lead to employment litigation:

#3 – Thumb drive downloads:

I love this one.

Sept. 5, 2009 – give two week notice you are quitting in email at 12:07 pm.

Sept. 5, 2009 – take thumb drive and download entire contents of work computer to take with you, 12:09pm.

Sept. 6, 2009 – Employer takes computer to IT; IT realizes you have copied client files, names, spreadsheets, policies etc. day before.

Sept. 6, 2009 – Escorted out of building at 9:00am, receive letter written by attorney that you must return all information or face lawsuit for (1) conversion; (2) breach of fiduciary duty; (3) breach of confidentiality clause in contract; (4) trade secret act; (5)Va. computer crimes act.

ADVICE: IF you think you are entitled to something from your work computer – don’t email it to your self, or download it. ASK FIRST. The above happens ALL THE TIME. If you have personal files, tell someone and let them know you are removing them. Don’t take everything. If you have already taken personel files – let someone know what you removed.

No, it may not be any of their business but they will assume the worst if they don’t know what was taken.

#4 – Cocktail conversations:

“Hey, bro… working with you is aaaaweessome. I am gonna tell you a secret, ok, don’t tell anyone… I am serious. No one can know. I am quitting the Company on Friday and have been planning my own company for, umm, like months… I totally think you should come work for me. What do you think man, aaaaaweeesome, right?”

Ok – now, a few beers into it, you will have no recollection of said cocktail conversation. It will however, come up in litigation when Employer needs to prove you (1) breached the solicitation clause of your non-compete agreement; and (2) you have been planning new business while an employee in violation of your duty of loyalty.

ADVICE: Resist. There are no secrets at work – you should know this.

Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at