From the annals of “Oh, no – I didn’t -“ . . .

The Winston-Salem Journal (my hometown paper – yay!) reports that a company is suing a former employee in the North Carolina Business Court for breach of his confidentiality and non-compete agreements.*

*The article ran in the Winston-Salem Journal but was written by a reporter from the Greensboro News & Record.

Douglas Poling was fired by Evo Corporation (it’s not clear why, but it is possible that Evo learned that Mr. Poling might be getting ready to go to work for a competitor).

Anyway, when Mr. Poling was fired, Evo asked him to return his company-issued iPhone, which Mr. Poling did. However, Mr. Poling didn’t disable the link between his phone and his cloud account. As a result, his text messages continued to “sync” on the phone that was now in the possession of his former employer.

You probably know where this is going.

Evo was able to see text message exchanges between Mr. Poling and his former administrative assistant on the day of termination, such as this:

POLING: Well, they’re getting ready to get [expletive deleted in news article], cause I’m coming straight to them.

He also was caught on text asking his assistant to send him his list of customer contacts and rate sheets for two clients, one of whom was Evo’s largest.

The litigation is still going on, and Mr. Poling has countersued for violation of state privacy and federal wiretapping laws.

The article is funny in a “there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I” sort of way, but the advice is pretty much limited to how employees can cover their tracks: (1) perform a factory reset before turning in your phone, (2) disable your cloud account, (3) “use the cloud judiciously,” (4) don’t sync, and (5) don’t mix business and personal on your accounts.

Maybe another should be, “Don’t violate your non-compete and confidentiality agreements.” I didn’t see that one anywhere.

Robin Shea is a Partner with the law firm of Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP and has more than 20 years’ experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act), the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, the Equal Pay Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act; and class and collective actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage-hour laws; defense of audits by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs; and labor relations. She conducts training for human resources professionals, management, and employees on a wide variety of topics.


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