Many employment agreements feature confidentiality agreements an employee must agree to as a part of accepting the job. Like the rest of the contract, confidentiality agreements can provide protection to both the employer and the employee, but primarily serve the interests of the employer.
If your employer or a former employer claims that you violated a confidentiality agreement, you should take this accusation very seriously. If they pursue the matter in court, failing to properly defend yourself may result in serious fines and other legal consequences. However, it is important to understand that not all confidentiality agreements hold up in court, and it is reasonably likely that your own agreement has weaknesses you can exploit.
For instance, many agreements far overreach reasonable boundaries in what they ask of the employee. Some confidentiality agreements attempt to bind employees to silence for many years with harsh punishments for violating the agreement, or may seek to restrict an employee from working for a competitor over far too wide an area. If your agreement features terms that seem too far-reaching, you may have grounds to have the agreement dismissed or dismiss a complaint against you.
Of course, your employer will probably say that the agreement is ironclad if you ask them directly, so it is always wise to obtain an impartial legal assessment of any confidentiality agreement to help you decide how to proceed.
However you address your employer’s confidentiality agreement, be sure that you take this matter seriously. You may have many more tools than you realize to build a strong legal strategy that keeps your rights secure and helps create a fairer workplace for others.