What do adult toys and X-rays have to do with protecting trade secrets?


Image by Tayeb MEZAHDIA from Pixabay

I’ve been revising a lot of NDAs recently — not to be confused with N.W.A.s. Although, sometimes, I do listen to N.W.A. while updating nondisclosure agreements.

My curious legal listening habits notwithstanding, there is a practical employment law point I’d like to make here. And it involves sex toys.

Really, Eric?!?

You see, I was reading this article in the South China Morning Post about a subway security guard who was fired after “posting photos of an X-ray of a passenger’s suitcase filled with sex toys on social media.”

Here’s more from the article, which by the way, I found via a G-rated Google Alert and certainly not because I have the South China Morning Post delivered to my home each day:

Last week on Friday a Weibo user posted screenshots of a group chat where the security guard had shared an X-ray image of the suitcase containing multiple sex toys.

The guard who was working at Guangzhou-Foshan subway said that during the X-ray he found there were heavy metal objects in the bag, and requested the commuter open her bag. Inside he found a whip, racy lingerie … and other assorted electric adult toys.

“There are many beautiful women in Guangzhou, but they are not so serious,” the guard said in the group chat. “She looked like Lin Chi-ling in her plaid skirt, but she had this in her bag.”

The blogger who exposed the guard’s posts online also complained to Guangzhou metro and police.

This got me thinking you’re going to get fired for blogging about vibrators about the nondisclosure agreements that I’d been editing and some of the more common shortcomings that I’ve fixed. Among them, employers often fail to remind employees that not only can’t they disclose the company’s confidential and proprietary information, but that obligation also extends to third-party confidential information in the company’s possession too. If your customers are anything like the lady with the suitcase — metaphorically, of course — they don’t want their secrets shared with others, especially not on social media.

That brings me to a related point. Even without a formal nondisclosure agreement, your employee handbook and, in particular, your confidentiality and social media policies should reinforce to employees that workplace rules governing confidentiality apply with equal force both off-hours and on social media.

I told you that there was an HR compliance takeaway here. Two of them! I feel a Pulitzer coming.

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