If you work with any kind of sensitive information as part of your job, or have settled a case against your employer, you may have been forced to sign a confidentiality agreement at some point. While this sort of agreement can be important and useful, it can also be abused to silence employees from speaking out about the harm they have suffered. But what exactly is a confidentiality agreement, and how can it affect you?
What is a Confidentiality Agreement?
In simple terms, a confidentiality agreement is a type of contract that prevents someone from discussing certain types of sensitive information. These contracts are commonly given to employees who work with client information, research data, product designs, or anything else that might harm the company if it were to be made public knowledge. Typically, in an employment context, people will sign a confidentiality agreement as part of a larger employment contract, though they may also sign one as part of a settlement agreement related to a legal dispute.
How Does a Confidentiality Agreement Work?
In essence, a confidentiality agreement works like any other contract: an employee promises not to discuss certain sensitive information outside of people authorized to have that information. This includes discussing it verbally, sending it in an email or text message, or otherwise conveying it to unauthorized persons. Depending on how strict the agreement is, an employee may not even be able to discuss the information with co-workers who aren’t working on the same project as them.
What Happens if You Violate a Confidentiality Agreement?
If you are accused of violating a confidentiality agreement, you could face significant legal or financial penalties. If the agreement was part of your employment contract, you could face pay cuts or deductions, lose access to benefits, or even lose your job. If the agreement was a part of a settlement, you could face litigation related to breach of the agreement, which can be both costly and time-consuming.
What Should You Do?
If you find yourself being constrained by a confidentiality agreement, or have been accused of violating an agreement by your employer, you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. They can advise you on your rights and help you get the best possible outcome to your case. The sooner you call, the sooner they can get to work for you.
Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 44 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. His new book, “Fired!: Protect Your Rights & FIGHT BACK If You’re Terminated, Laid Off, Downsized, Restructured, Forced to Resign or Quit,” is available in hardback, and contains valuable advice on dealing with employment and labor law issues. To purchase the book, feel free to contact Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or visit the website at legalstratpub.com. To inquire about a legal matter, please feel free to contact attorney Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.