When executives or other high-level employees or key employees separate themselves from a previous employment arrangement, there are many potential issues on the table that are different from other employer/employee concerns. Typically, the consequences of bad decisions could be serious.
An executive, by the very nature of their position, possess and are privy to information that can be arguably categorized as sensitive trade secrets. Whether contemplating a career move to a competitor or industry partner or weighing the options of establishing their own enterprise, an executive should be mindful of many factors, including:
- The existence and terms of any trade secrets, proprietary or confidential information assignments or agreements
- The existence of any fiduciary or other special duties
Just as when the employment relationship was entered into, the first concern is what the contract says. The executive who is on their way out needs to be assured:
- Their interests are being protected under the appropriate legal standards but also fairly.
- They can move forward with their future career plans without hindrance from their former employer.
- The proposed separation agreement provides the best package that can be achieved.
Litigation should clearly be an executive’s last option to resolve disputes, but, in some few cases, there are no other options.