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Serenex chemist sold pharmaceutical secrets to Chinese


Serenex, the Durham-based biopharmaceutical company, is due to collect $57.5 million from two Chinese companies and a former Serenex employee who Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens said conspired to steal trade secrets. But it’s doubtful Serenex will ever collect the money …

Showing restraint: Ensuring worker safety with workplace protective orders


A disgruntled employee is terminated for poor performance. On his way out, he threatens his manager and co-workers. Fortunately, situations like this usually end with the terminated employee cooling off, filing for unemployment and getting on with his life. But what happens when the employee doesn’t let it go? …

Circulating résumés around the office


Q. One of our managers who hires for his division has started passing around the résumés of possible candidates to other managers. He wants to get their opinions on the candidates. Does passing along résumés to these people violate any privacy laws?

Don’t overlook fresh evidence that the employee you fired deserved to go

Sometimes, employers fire employees for the wrong reasons and end up in litigation. Then, while preparing to defend against the wrongful-termination case, they discover other—perhaps even better—reasons to have terminated the employee. Make sure your attorneys know about the new evidence …

The rules of company blogging: Avoiding employee misuse and abuse


Spend any time scanning the world’s 112 million blogs and you’ll find plenty of employees discussing their work. Sometimes that spells legal trouble for employers. By implementing an effective company blogging policy, you may avoid many of the pitfalls …

Issues to consider before monitoring e-mail


Q. If we suspect an employee is violating a company policy prohibiting harassment, can we monitor the employee’s e-mails? …

Ensuring the confidentiality of HR info

Q. I’m the HR director of a 45-employee company and have one assistant. Due to the firm’s growth, I’m considering giving my assistant more responsibility. My concern: The assistant is very friendly with about 10 other employees, two of which are her roommates. What’s to stop her from divulging information to her friends? I have said nothing to her about my concerns yet. What can I express to her without overstepping her legal rights? …

Could a court order force us to compromise our employees’ privacy?

Q. I heard that Google is being forced to hand over YouTube access logs to Viacom as evidence in a copyright suit. This seems like a major privacy issue. Our company provides free health information to our employees over the Internet. Our internal web site users have created employee profiles that include personal information such as their names and e-mail addresses. Could we be forced to hand over our user information if we ever became involved in litigation? …

Is video surveillance of employees legal?

Q. My family owns a chain of electronics stores. We suspect that employees have stolen some merchandise. We want to install surveillance cameras in our inventory storage room and possibly near the back door of the store where the theft occurred. Are there any legal issues that we should take into consideration? …

Can you legally fire a woman who has an abortion?

When graphic artist Jane Doe became pregnant, she told her boss. Then she learned that the child was severely deformed. She decided to terminate the pregnancy. She took a week off for the procedure, recovery and to bury the child. Then her employer then fired her.