There are two competing public policy objectives in drawing the line between a business owner’s right to protect his proprietary information and the employee’s right to work in the industry of their choice, using the skills acquired during employment. On the one hand, the employer may have invested years of sweat equity and thousands of dollars in developing a clientele and methodology that makes his business unique and prosperous. He should be able to protect his intellectual property from theft just as he protects his inventory from theft. But one of his worst potential thieves is employees.
On the other hand, the employee is not a slave to his employer. He has agreed to work for pay but not to indenture himself to the employer forever. And what he learns as an employee about how to do the job should be his to keep and use in future employment or even new business opportunities. His employer should not have the power to keep him from the pursuit of bettering himself in his career.
In this contest of competing public policy objectives, which is carried out in the courts, the employee usually wins. Generally, the court considers the employee’s right to move freely through the economy (and stay out the public purse) more important than the employer’s right to protect what he may have spent years building.
The question of where to draw the line can be greatly aided when a written agreement is put in place before the legal relationship begins, which unequivocally states who owns what and who can take what with him when he goes on to other things.
On April 20 at 9:30 a.m., Wayne Anderson of Anderson & Co., Barrister and Solicitor will host a workshop on what a Non-Competition and Confidentiality Agreement between an employer and employee should contain to ensure it is enforceable in the B.C. Courts and fair to both parties.
Entry is free to those who register at firstname.lastname@example.org. Coffee and muffins will be provided.