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Regarding Greene’s indictment against Jennifer for breaching the confidentiality agreements

2021-10-08 来源: 51Due教员组 类别: Essay范文

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1) The process for creating a synthetic gold-colored material is a trade secret of the Greene’s Jewelry Wholesale.
According to the U.S. Code, the term “trade secret” means all forms and types of financial, technical, and etc. information, including techniques and processes, if “ the owner thereof has taken reasonable measures to keep such information secret; and the information derives independent economic value, actual or potential, form not being generally known to another person who can obtain economic value from the disclosure or use of the information (18 U.S. Code§ 1893). The Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) (with 1985 amendments) has a similar definition on “trade secret”. Hence, beyond all question, the process for creating the Ever-Gold is a trade secret of Greene’s.
2) Jennifer Lawson, the defendant, had been employed as a member of the research and development department at Greene’s Jewelry for three years.
This indicated that the plaintiff certainly mastered at least some information of the process of producing Ever-Gold.
3) Jennifer signed a confidentiality agreement not to disclose any information she acquired from Greene’s secret process used to produce Ever-Gold.
According to the Restatement (Second) of Contracts (1981), “ a contract is a promise or a set of promises for the breach of which the law gives a remedy, or the performance of which the law in some way recognizes as a duty”. Since Jennifer has signed a contract with Greene’s not to disclose the secret information to the other parties, Greene’s has the right to sue Jennifer for remedies.
4) Jennifer disclosed Greene’s trade secret to Howell improperly.
In accordance with the UTSA (with 1985 amendments), Jennifer violated the trade secret protection law. Given that Jennifer already signed a confidentiality agreement, she should not deliver the secret to any third party; otherwise, she would breach the duty to maintain secrecy. However, she disclosed the secret information to Howell, another jewelry producer, for the purpose of earning a position in Howell. Therefore, the information Jennifer delivered was obtained through “improper means”, and her behavior was a kind of “misappropriation” as a matter of law. Further, regulated by Section 4 of the UTSA (with 1985 amendments), “A complainant may entitled to recover damages for the actual caused by misappropriation.” Greene’s has the right to sue Jennifer for her misconduct.
Regarding Jennifer’s counter-indictment against Greene’s for wrongful termination

1) Jennifer’s work performance was poor when she was dismissed, as she routinely showed up 15 to 30 minutes late for work.

2) Howell, then, dismissed Jennifer for the same reason.

Major legal protections on labor rights in the United States are about illegal dismissals, especially dismissal due to discrimination. Common reasons for firing in the United States include being late often, performing tasks slowly and with errors, inconsistent and unreliable work behaviors, and the like (Being Fired, n.d.). An UK regulation provides an analogous definition on fair dismissal: valid dismissal reasons include employee’s poor capability or conduct, redundancy, or something that prevents them from legally being able to do their job (Gov. UK, n.d.). A supportive precedent is the Sentencia 10341 case (2004). The plaintiff claimed that she was dismissed because of her pregnancy, and therefore her constitutional rights were violated illegally. However, the court disagreed, finding that the dismissal was not based on her pregnancy but based on work competence.

ii. Weaknesses and Related Laws

Regarding Jennifer’s counter-indictment against Greene’s for wrongful termination:

1) Jennifer was pregnant when dismissed by Greene’s.

2) Greene’s did not have a clear procedure on the dismissal.

The United States has numerous laws to prohibit job discrimination in respect to sex or pregnancy. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, regulate that employers are forbidden to have discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspects of employment (EEOCa, n.d.). Further, since employee’s impairments resulting from pregnancy can be deemed as temporary disabilities, pregnant women, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), could ask for being provided with reasonable less work arrangement (EEOCb, n.d.). In the Webb v. EMO Air Cargo case, the plaintiff claimed that she was dismissed from the EMO after the company notifying her pregnancy. A letter from EMO stated that her pregnancy was the reason of her dismissal. ebb sued EMO Air Cargo for gender discrimination. The court agreed Webb’s claim and determined that the plaintiff’s dismissal violated labor protection laws.

iii. The Likelihood of Winning

Based on forgoing analysis, Greene’s is very likely to win in the legal dispute against Jennifer’s breaching confidentiality agreements.

Whether Greene’s could win Jennifer’s counter-indictment against Greene’s for wrongful termination yet is not clear. A key fact to be determined is that whether Greene’s dismisses Jennifer based on her pregnancy or on her poor performance.  

 

E. Impact Assessment

i. Impacts on Public Reputation and Public Discourse’s

Companies maintaining high-quality ethics codes, similar to companies with excellent products and services, were usually found to rank highly in corporate responsibility and public perception of the firm (Erwin, 2011).

If Green’s had won the lawsuit against on Jennifer’s breaching confidentiality agreements, the public won’t have at least negative perception on Greene’s for it was protecting its legitimate rights. For example, as one of the largest soft drink companies around the world, Coca Cola values the importance of trade secret protection excessively (Pendergrast, 2000). This not only helped with maintaining its business value, but also made the brand more reliable for the public. As for Jennifer’s counter-indictment, if the company were find dismissing Jennifer due to discrimination will no doubt bring negative perception to the company. For instance, McDonald’s, one of the largest fast food companies, has been suffering from stigma due to sex discrimination or low wages in workplace (McDonald’s Lawsuits, n.d.).

Public discourse does reflect legal outcome to some extent, but there are also exceptions as the public has limited knowledge of the facts and laws. For instance, for the Liebeck v. McDonald’s case (2014), many believed that Liebeck would not win based on subjective judgment. However, the plaintiff finally won the lawsuit for Liebeck’s injury was extremely severe, and a number of other reasons also contributed to Liebeck’s success.

ii. Suggestions on alleviating damages 

1. The disclosure of Greene’s trade secret might bring business damages on Greene’s future business. Greene’s is suggested to ask the defendant to afford actual financial or other damages caused by her misconduct.

2. Greene’s is suggested to ask the defendant never to disclose Greene’s trade secret to any third party in the future.

3. Greene’s is suggested to update its code of ethics, laying more emphasis on gender equality in workplace, and positively engaging more in activities that represent corporate social responsibility.

4. Greene’s is suggested to have more detailed and strict regulation on trade secret protection and human resources management.

iii. Suggestions on improving business practices

1) Greene’s is suggested to increase the sense of secrecy inside the company. Making sure all new employees have undergone rigorous training before having access to the processes of creating Ever-Gold. Besides to confidentiality agreements, Greene’s might divide the secret process into several parts, and make sure employees could only know one part of the whole procedure. This could largely help with Greene’s trade secret protection.

2) Greene’s might also consider applying patent for the technique and processes of producing Ever-Gold. A valid patent provides a legal monopoly for seventeen years in exchange for the disclosure of secret information.

3) Greene’s is suggested to cultivate an equal and cooperative corporate culture with rigorous corporate disciplines. It is suggested to value not only the economic performance of the company, but also pay attention to effective management on human resources.


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