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Friday, March 4, 2016

Florida Adds "Financial Information" To List of Trade Secrets That Can Get You Tossed In Jail

Florida continues to be one of the worst states in the nation for employees. Zippo has passed so far in favor of employees this legislative session, but legislators thought, "Gee, Florida just isn't rotten enough for employees. Let's make it worse."

So they added the very broad category of "financial information" to the list of trade secrets that, if taken, can land employees in jail. What is financial information? Anything with numbers on it, including the office pool on Mary Lou's due date? Only banking and accounting documents? Who knows? Did the Republican legislature think to define it? Nope.

Still, in order to prove this crime, the prosecution will also have to prove that the information was:
1. Secret;
2. Of value;
3. For use or in use by the business; and
4. Of advantage to the business, or providing an opportunity to obtain an advantage, over those who do not know or use it when the owner thereof takes measures to prevent it from becoming available to persons other than those selected by the owner to have access thereto for limited purposes.
So taking a post-it with "$1.00" written on is is probably not enough for a conviction, but when you're gathering up documents to prove how much you're owed in commissions or to prove discrimination, you need to be careful. Some poor schmo will be the first person to get the honor of testing the constitutionality of this very broad law. Don't let it be you.

Employers already had the remedy of injunction and money damages if employees took and used trade secrets to form their own company or help a competitor, so this seems like overkill. But there's nothing this legislature seems to think is too harsh to impose on Florida working folks.

Vote well, people. Vote well.