Effective January 1, 2016, employers will have a new statutory remedy at their disposal for the protection of proprietary information and other property. The North Carolina Property Protection Act (PPA) states that any person who intentionally gains access to the non-public areas (i.e., areas not accessible to the general public) of another’s premises and engages in an act that exceeds the scope of their authority is subject to liability. The PPA further explains that acts that exceed authority include:
- An employee who enters the nonpublic areas of an employer’s premises for a reason “other than a bona fide intent of seeking or holding employment or doing business with the employer” and thereafter without authorization “captures or removes the employer’s data, paper, records, or any other documents” and uses the information to breach their duty of loyalty.
- An employee who enters the nonpublic areas of an employer’s premises for a reason “other than a bona fide intent of seeking or holding employment or doing business with the employer” and thereafter without authorization “records images or sound occurring within an employer’s premises” and uses the recording to breach their duty of loyalty.
- Intentionally placing on the employer’s premises an unauthorized camera or electronic surveillance device and using the device to record images or data.
The PPA also imposes liability on anyone who assists or induces someone to violate the PPA.
Robust remedies are available under the PPA. They include:
- Equitable relief
- Compensatory damages
- Attorneys’ fees
- Exemplary damages in the amount of $5,000 for each day of violation
The reach of this law and the scope of the remedies will be fleshed out in subsequent judicial decisions. For now, it is clear that employers who are seeking to protect their proprietary information and other property now have another remedy at their disposal.
To learn more about seeking a competitive advantage in today’s burgeoning business world of proprietary information, data and intellectual property, please visit SafeguardingBusiness.com.