Can an employee who wants to prove discrimination take, copy and disclose company documents? How does that square with the company’s right to protect what it deems to be confidential information? Those questions are critical these days, as companies seek to gain and maintain the competitive edge that comes from protecting intellectual capital.
The New Jersey Supreme Court recently offered some guidance on this issue in Quinlan v. Curtiss-Wright (204 N.J. 239, 2010).
Verdict for the employee
Joyce Quinlan, who at the time was the executive director of HR for Curtiss-Wright, copied about 1,800 pages of documents that the company considered confidential. Quinlan sought to use the documents in litigation against the company. In that lawsuit, she claimed discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD).
After the company reviewed several of the copied documents during discovery, Curtiss-Wright fired Quinla...(register to read more)