Companies are permitting (or requiring) employees to work remotely right now in response to COVID-19 concerns. This decision, calculated to minimize certain risks, presents new and wide-ranging concerns for the protection of trade secrets. In this “temporary” working remotely environment, employees will have considerable opportunity to access, download, or store sensitive information from company systems and databases. Have you vetted these circumstances or otherwise addressed their use? Think – home printers? Cell phones? Tablets? Personal email accounts? Working in public places such as libraries and coffee shops? Companies may also be inclined to relax otherwise well thought out document management rules or allow for workarounds from the usual security measures in the interest of business continuity. In such an environment, employees may make assumptions that they have wider latitude to email, copy, send, print, or download information, given the circumstances. Compounding these insider risks are a series of unknowns, such as whether your employees’ home networks have security anywhere near on par with in-office network security that could allow outsiders to intrude or access data.

Trade secret litigation has grown exponentially in the United States, in part due to the passage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (18 U.S.C. § 1836, et seq.) in 2016, and in response to the incredible value embodied in companies’ customer lists, knowhow, processes, formulas, business strategies, salary structures, and numerous other forms of intellectual property. If information is valuable, kept secret, and derives value from its secrecy, then it can be a protectable trade secret — as long as the company puts in place reasonable measures to maintain the secrecy.

Whether your company has a sophisticated trade secret protection plan in place or not, the current work environment will stress policies and procedures. Employees pose the biggest threat to securing a company’s valuable IP, and several remote-working concerns raise long-term policy questions to be addressed over time. But, the action items can’t all wait until a calmer moment. Consider the following immediate steps as your company reacts to recent events.

1. Communicate current obligations and requirements in the remote working environment

If you have a robust work-from-home policy, review it now with a specific focus on maintaining your company’s most valuable secrets. If you do not have such a policy, implement something immediately, even if it is temporary. Set clear expectations on what information the business considers to be confidential or trade secrets and what particular steps employees are required to follow when using or accessing that information. Not only does it make business sense to keep employees on notice of company policies and procedures, but federal case law under the DTSA has made clear that employees can only be held to trade secret obligations where they are specific and clear, such that employees are “on notice” of the trade secrets.
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To navigate the most-pressing issues facing multinational employers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the COVID-19 Global Employer Guide offers jurisdiction-specific guidance across 41 countries.

Download the Guide now to read the latest employment law guidance on issues including: legal requirements, practical and operational considerations, and emerging government regulation related to the outbreak.

For more information

Employers and their workforce are waking up to news this morning of further US travel restrictions given the COVID-19 pandemic. This time, the restrictions affect most travelers from the European Union (EU). The following are highlights of what you need to know today:

Foreign nationals who have visited the Schengen Area in the past 14

To review the new and expanded version of the Coronavirus Quick Guide for Employers click here.

This guide covers 19 jurisdictions across Europe, Middle East and Africa and covers the latest country updates from the last couple of days, including employer obligations following school closures around the region.

What has changed

On December 10, 2019, the United States, Canada and Mexico reached an agreement on a revised United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (“USMCA”), which establishes a rapid response labor mechanism (“RRLM”) for dispute resolution for alleged violations of the right of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining in these countries. The mechanism allows the US and Canadian governments to make claims against facilities in Mexico for potential violations of these rights, to the extent that the rights are established by Mexican law. The Mexican government may also file a claim for potential violations to these labor rights in the US or Canada, but only if the facility involved is under an enforced order of the National Labor Relations Board or the Canada Industrial Relations Board, respectively. This mechanism cannot be invoked for disputes of this nature between the US and Canada.


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In part one of this article, we discussed when and how multinational companies can use a noncompetition agreement on their highly skilled employees to protect their confidential information and other intellectual property. In particular, we described five key factors to consider before rolling out noncompete covenants around the world.

In part two, we analyze how

In 2020, trade tensions, uncertainties over Brexit, significant changes in the political landscape and unexpected global events, such as the Coronavirus outbreak, continue to present challenges for the global employer. Meanwhile, the relentless advance of technology is accelerating workplace transformation, creating an opportunity for employee growth and diversification across industries.

To help navigate the global

(With thanks to Michael Michalandos and our Asia Pacific Employment and Compensation team for this post.)

The recent outbreak of COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) raises challenging issues for employers, particularly those that operate in multiple locations, provide a variety of services, and employ a global workforce which travels routinely. Now is the time for employers to

As multinational companies compete for highly skilled employees around the world, they are often confronted with a deceptively simple question: Do they impose a noncompetition agreement on their employees?

This article is part one of a two-part article addressing how multinational companies can use a noncompetition agreement on their highly skilled employees to protect their

With thanks to Melissa Allchin (Chicago) for this post.

Multinational employers continue to closely monitor the latest on the Novel Coronavirus. As the outbreak becomes more widespread, companies with foreign national employees and families in China are starting to feel the impact. Many may wonder how the current circumstances could affect their immigration status. Some employers may consider contingency plans, beyond work-from-home arrangements, to support foreign national employees currently on assignment in China.

Here are key takeaways for employers with an assignee population in China that may want to end their postings early or accommodate temporary residence elsewhere in the region or a return home for a short term until the outbreak situation becomes more clear:


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