TO: Legal Department: Greene’s Jewelry Wholesale, LLC
SUBJECT: Jennifer Lawson, Former Employee – Breach of Confidential Agreement
An employment contract comes in two forms; the first one is the traditional agreement signed upon and agreed by both employee and the employer, and in the agreement taken by both employee and employer. These agreements can come in the form of company memorandum or the kind of a handbook for the employees or policies immediately adopted when the employee is being employed. Usually, employee contracts are used by the employee to give an evidence that the employer has limited rights when it comes to terminating the employment contract. In many of the states, employment is mostly considered something done “at will.” this means that the employer can terminate the employment or the employee leaving voluntarily at any point in time. The right of an employer to fire an employee is sometimes limited. However, if an employee can show that an employer has got the employment contract as an explicit one and allows for being retained for some time, then the contract dictates that the employee should be terminated under some specific reasons including disciplinary.
Jennifer Lawson is a defendant in a case involving Greene’s Jewelry. In the case of Greene’s Jewelry v. Jennifer Lawson, the defendant Jennifer Lawson, is a former employee of the subject company, Greene’s Jewelry Wholesale, LLC which at located in Derry New Hampshire. Before being fired, the defendant was holding the position of the junior executive for research and development. The defendant claims that the company released her because she was pregnant. However, Greene’s jewelry maintains that the company was downsizing and that her position was no longer needed. The defendant left the company while she was still in possession of the company documents that were used to process the main assets of the company, the ever-gold. Ever-good is impervious to scratches and oxidation and therefore is usually marked with the writings everlasting gold. After being released from the company, the defendant has partnered with Howell jewelry world which is a competitor to the former company. Howell jewelry world is also confident that the defendant has confidential information about their former company and how they were processing the ever-gold. After getting the job with her new company, the defendant signed the confidential agreement, all the non-disclosure agreement. The defendant did not sign any covenant agreement with the new company. The non-disclosure gives provision for creating a legal obligation to privacy and also compels the subjects to provide specific information or top secret information. The defendant violated this contract with the company. Also, the defendant is also suing the company as she feels that the company wrongfully terminated her because the company is aware that she is pregnant. She states that the problems started when she announced to the company about her pregnancy, especially after sharing the information with their head of human resource department. The head of the human resource department known as Lisa Peele also made it clear to the defendant as the company had already contemplated on downsizing the company to eliminate her position of the junior executive. The company had already concluded terminating a contract even before she announced her pregnancy.
Facts and Laws
The defendant, Miss Jennifer Lawson is suing the company for being wrongfully fired, and her contract terminated because of her being pregnant. The discriminatory pregnancy act condemns discrimination based on pregnancy especially concerning employment (Dornin, 2007; Dorrian, 2014). According to this act, hiring and firing employees should not be affected by the pregnancy condition of a female employee. As well it should not affect the assignment, benefits, promotion or any other conditions. The company is, therefore, being accused because they violated this law. The position which Mrs. Lawson was holding of the junior executive was eliminated in the company. The defendant signed an NDA which states that she should not disclose the information about the process that the company used in making Ever-gold asset. Even though the defendant knew about this, she decided to give Howell jewelry world confidential information that was used in processing ever gold and it would help the company compete with the former company. It is also believed that the defendant and signed a contract with Howell as she revealed the document of processing ever-gold. It is also believed that the contract was signed by the defendant to secure employment. Because of this, the defendant has violated the contract that he had with the company, and she has also violated New Hampshire trade secret law.
From this assessment, we can arrive at a definitive conclusion through the laws that termination based on downsizing does not require a notice to the employee. Miss Lawson did not have to be informed before her contract was terminated. As long as green can establish that it was legal to downsize before Jennifer informed her of her contributions, it was an illegal procedure. Her high risk pregnancy was also informed due to the timeline, and therefore there was no discrimination against her or a pregnant person at high risk. Therefore addressing this allegation requires that there is no proof contrary to this. Hence no discrimination. Also, the New Hampshire regulation for trade secrets shows that a former employee is not supported to give the secrets of the former employer to a competitor. Hence, what Miss Lawson did was illegal. The employee signed the non-disclosure agreement before she was employed at Green’s. This was an agreement stating that an employer should not disclose the secrets of the farm. However, she went against the agreement that was signed. This goes hand in hand with a confidentiality agreement. It can be concluded that Miss Lawson is guilty and there was no discrimination against her at all.
As the legal department of Greene’s jewelry company, we have the following laws and cases as presidents that will support this case. The cases are as follows.
Facts to be Determined
As the legal department or green jewelry, we are requesting documents that are specific to be sent to the company so that we can establish a better case. There are also subpoenas that have been said against Howell jewelry world. The documents needed at the following:
Application of the Law to the Facts
In the cases below, regulations and laws which are substantive are used against the defendant in helping the company proceed with the case. With evidence provided, it looks like the company will win the case as a legal dispute against the defendant. We, the legal representatives of greens jewelry have compiled different laws and cases that will support the case against the defendant.
Case Laws and Public Policies that concerns The Lawsuit against Miss Lawson
From this situation, it is evident that Miss Lawson is guilty. First, the law does not implement notice before termination of a contract. This contract was made willfully, and the company can terminate the agreement at there on time. It does not have anything to do with discrimination against high risk pregnancy as long as the company can establish that the timeline that the downsizing was done, there is a proof that it had nothing to do with the pregnancy. The defendant is, therefore, misusing discrimination as accompany lawfully justified our contract termination. At the same time, other laws can justify the termination of the contract such as New Hampshire regulation for trade secrets as well as the non-disclosure agreement. The New Hampshire lo for regulation of trade secrets states that an employee should not give out the secrets of the former employer to the new competitor. This is an illegal act that is punishable by the law. At the same time, the employee had signed a nondisclosure agreement where she swore not to share this secret of the company. It is therefore unlawful for her to share out the real secret of the most valuable asset to the company to a competitor. This does not only give the competitor a competitive advantage but also prevents the company from performing its operations. The Pregnancy Act states that no female should be discriminated against because they are pregnant or expected. They should be treated equally during that time in employment. Greens Companytreated Miss Lawson just like the others, and there was no discrimination against her in any way. Determination of a contract was just done as a procedure where the company was downsizing because of the economic situation. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act also states that an employee has a right and cannot be discriminated against. The company have been right to these regulations and did not discriminate against anyone. Therefore discrimination case does not apply here, and therefore there is no discrimination.
The other relevant case against the defendant is for Pepsi against Coca-Cola of the year 2007. The case involved trade secrets of coca cola secrets being shared with Pepsi by a former employee. Such a case damaged the performance of Coca-Cola asPepsi started to perform better in the market (Vedwan, (2007). It is stated that the two former employees who are working for Coca-Cola were sentenced to federal prison because they conspired to sell the secrets to a rival company which was Pepsi for the amount of 1.5 million. The case is relevant because Mrs. Lawson is also a former employee to the company that she is now not part of anymore. She stole the company trade secrets and sold it to the competitor. The only difference is that instead of getting money, she got employment instead.
Case Laws & Public Policies Concerning the Lawsuit against the Company
Ownership of inventions
In this provision, there is a recommendation for employees who are inventing things as their primary job. In this provision, an employee agrees that whatever he or she invents during the time she or he has been terminated from the job becomes an invention of the employer and not an invention of the employee. Employees usually sign the inventions to the employer as part of the agreement, or they can co-operate with the employer so that they can get patent with the invention and also keep information about that trade secrets as well.
Consequently, the employer can agree to share with the employee a certain percentage of royalties because of the invention. The company has learned that Howell has taken knowledge and is secretly using it to process and create ever-gold. Also, Howell has tweaked some of their processes to avoid patent infringement but create products with the same characteristics and qualities mutual service ever gold. If the intention was for the defendant, then she is right to share it.
Impact Assessment: Public Perception
From this case, the way the public perceives the company may break it or make it depending on the outcome. If this company is respectable and one that creates products that are quality, it is easier to win back the customers. However, based on this case, the company can lose its reputation. The company’s reputation is one of the crucial elements of success. Even though the company may not have violated the law, the process of using the pregnant woman will be seen by the public as something negative. The company also will be viewed as the main culprit that has been against a pregnant woman. It will be seen as if the company had fired a pregnant woman who will be a struggling mother without a job. The company, however, sees this as a moral act and that they have not done anything wrong and damage the public perception. Apart from this, the general public will be reflecting on the legal outcomes of the case in case these legal lawsuits go to the civil jury.
A perfect example is the case of O’Day v. McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Co., 79 F.3d 756 of the year 1996. McAdamset al., (n.d), considers the case of McDonaldto be one having a massive impact on how businesses view public opinions (UpCounsel Inc., 2019). In a lawsuit, the leading corporation is viewed as the plaintiff as Liobet was the elderly and a fragile grandfather that received sympathy from the public. However, it had a massive impact on the company’s reputation.
Impact Assessment: Business Practices and Recommendations
Business practices refer to processes and procedures or rules that a company follows when they are pursuing their goals. They are done collectively to create a focused agenda. The company should have several practices to avoid similar situations (“What is business practice,” 2016). Several suggestions can be made on methods to alleviate the damages done to the company based on public perception. Because there are actions that will be taken against to the other party and the defendant, it is crucial to take action so that the public perception about the company does not affect the performance in the market. Businesses are mainly dependent on public opinions as they value customer relations. One example it is important for the company to release a memo to the public so that they are well aware of what is happening with the defendant. This way, the company with clear its name and it will be known by the public that the company is not responsible for any ill- actions against the defendant. The other suggestions include making new proposals clear to the public so that they know that the company has changed its operations depending on the demands of the new clients. It is also vital that the company get involved in several other actions that way promote its name and improve public perceptions and not operate on only one item. Apart from protecting the company image on the public, getting involved in other activities will improve the financial performance of the company. It is essential that a company make changes to the contract especially those that deals with termination of employment contracts and those that deals with medical leave for pregnant employees. The pregnant ladies have to be given the same privileges as the other employees (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2016). The first practice that this company needs to focus on is the termination process. The head of the human resource department announced that the defendant was eliminated because of the downsizing process and that sounded heartless to the defendant. Termination is essential and is also part of our company. Ethical practices that the company should focus on his medical leave. Pregnancy discrimination act forbids any form of discrimination against pregnant women, especially when assigning them, promoting them, or employing them. It should also provide benefits for health insurance. Also, the company should be sensitive to complex situations such as someone being pregnant so that they do not feel that their termination was because of their pregnancy. These recommendations will ensure that the public perception of the company is not damaged in the case involving the defendant and any future case that will take place. It is crucial for the company to start implementing the recommendations to avoid a recurrence of such cases.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88–352, 78 Stat. 241, enacted July 2, 1964)
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 (Pub.L. 95–555)
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88–352, 78 Stat. 241, enacted July 2, 1964)
McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973)
2014 New Hampshire Revised StatutesTitle XXXI – Trade And Commerce Chapter 350-B – Uniform Trade Secrets Act
Dorrian, P. (2014). AutoZone Must Pay $185 Million in Punitive For Pregnancy Bias, Retaliation, and Judge Rules. Retrieved from http://www.bna.com/autozone-pay-185-n17179912162/
McAdams, T., Neslund, N., Zucker, K. D., & Neslund, K. (n.d.). Law, business, and society.
O’Day v. McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Co., 79 F.3d 756 (1996)
Stim, R. (2019a). Using Nondisclosure Agreements to Protect Business Trade Secrets. Retrieved from http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/nondisclosure-agreements-29630.html
Stim, R. (2019b). New Hampshire Trade Secret Law. Retrieved from http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/new-hampshire-trade-secret-law.html
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (n.d). Pregnancy Discrimination. Retrieved from http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/pregnancy.cfm
UpCounsel Inc. (2019). Sitemap on UpCounsel; the Actual Facts about the McDonalds’ Coffee Case. Retrieved from http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm
Vedwan, N. (2007). Pesticides in Coca‐Cola and Pepsi: Consumerism, brand image, and public interest in a globalizing India. Cultural Anthropology, 22(4), 659-684.
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