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Non-disclosure agreements: when are they necessary?

Asking employees to sign non-disclosure agreements has long been a standard operating procedure for businesses. New Mexico business owners may be considering the necessity of non-disclosure agreements for their own companies, but there are those who feel that these agreements violate employee rights. While there may be some of these legally binding agreements that are questionable, non-disclosure agreements are a legal, viable and beneficial way to protect company interests.

It should be noted that these agreements should not violate employee rights, such as whistleblower laws. These agreements should also not ask employees to remain mute on wrongdoing or any illegal activity. However, workers should recognize that these agreements are a standard practice in many industries.

Employers have the right to protect company interests and to prevent former or current employees from stealing or selling any type of intellectual property. These agreements should be carefully worded so that both the employer and employee have their best interests protected. While there are examples of non-disclosure agreements that overstep the bounds of corporate authority, it is important for New Mexico employers to understand that these instances are in the minority.

Because of a few instances of questionable non-disclosure agreements, employees may have qualms about signing any legally binding agreement with an employer. When worded correctly and carefully, this step can be beneficial to all parties involved. These agreements are intended to protect trade secrets and intellectual property from potential competitors, not violate employee rights. Signing an agreement is still a common and necessary practice and should not be viewed as "corporate overreach."

Source: yakimaherald.com, "Are nondisclosure agreements protected speech or corporate overreach?", Scott Higham and Kaley Belval, Aug. 3, 2014

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