New Employee Data Contamination


While recently watching programming on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, I took note of the precautions that were in place in the early days of space travel. One of which was requiring the astronauts be quarantined upon return to avoid spreading possible “moon bugs.”

Funny as it may seem it reminded me of hiring new employees in an organization.  No, we don¹t typically keep them in an Airstream for 21 days before rejoining the population, but what if when they join your company they do in fact bring in dangerous material, much like the early thoughts were on the astronauts? And by dangerous material we¹re not talking bacteria, microbes etc. but material, specifically data, that doesn’t actually belong to them.  

Most if not all the cases we work (plaintiff or defendants’ side) stem from information whose ownership as well as dissemination is in question to put it nicely.  And from the perspective of the company who is hiring the worker whose taking of the data initiated the legal issues, and possible litigation, the question is why?  Why allow this new employee to start costing you money as soon as they enter the door?  Why allow them to bring any data with them from a previous employer?  

Why NOT make sure that your agreement with them spells out that they are not to bring any material with them to which they are not the actual owner.  And if they do they are not only solely responsible for any legal fees but responsible for yours as well.  Sure, most employees would not be able to cover such fees but the policy would be in place as a deterrent, and ideally a moment for pause where a new employee could carefully consider the ramifications that transferring protected material would incur. If it’s not their information then they shouldn’t be bringing it into your house!  If more businesses took some of these precautions upfront they¹d be better off in the long run.

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