Legal Question in Business Law in California

Confidentiality Agreement in Illegal/Unethical Situation

If an employee signs a confidentiality and/or nondisclosure agreement with a company, would such an agreement prohibit the employee from blowing the whistle on acctivity that may be criminal, but is certainly unethical?

Asked on 10/23/02, 2:04 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Adam Telanoff Telanoff & Telanoff

Re: Confidentiality Agreement in Illegal/Unethical Situation

1. You cannot be prohibited from "whistle-blowing" regarding illegal activity.

2. Unethical behavior may or may not be illegal, and you may not have the same protections.

3. Without reading your confidentiality and/or non-disclosure agreement no attorney can give you more than the most general advice.

You should bring the agreement to an attorney and get advice specific to your situaton.

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Answered on 10/23/02, 5:20 pm
Jeff Lambert Attorney at Law

Re: Confidentiality Agreement in Illegal/Unethical Situation

Where alleged criminal or illegal activity has transpired, such an agreement cannot prevent "whistleblower" activity. However, you need to be very careful as to what type of information you are disclosing in this regard, and whether the activity complained of rises to the level of criminal or illegal activity. Ultimately, this depends on the specific facts of your situation. It is best to first get an interpretation of your general situation, without naming names, from an attorney in your area or a governmental agency that regulates the activity in question before you make any formal complaints, if you intend to pursue that course of action.

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Answered on 10/23/02, 2:35 pm

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