- Kathryn O'Leary, Esq.
Stealing your employer's confidential information can subject you to punitive damages.
Employees who misappropriate their employers' proprietary materials during the course of employment and then use the purloined materials in the marketplace may be subject to liability under the powerful Massachusetts Consumer Protection statute, Chapter 93A. Historically, claims arising from an employment relationship were not considered "marketplace transactions", which is a prerequisite to liability under Chapter 93A, section 11. However, in Governo Law Firm, LLC v. Kendra Ann Bergeron, et al., SJC-12948 (2021), the Supreme Judicial Court held that a jury instruction that deemed irrelevant "anything" the defendants did "while they were still employed" was prejudicial and potentially deprived the plaintiff of attorneys' fees and double or treble damages. See G. L. c. 93A, § 11. The error in the jury instruction affected plaintiff's substantial rights and it was awarded a new trial.