Employment Law Daily Defend Trade Secret Act claims involving confidential employee info asserted against union, city
Friday, May 20, 2016

Defend Trade Secret Act claims involving confidential employee info asserted against union, city

By Cheryl Beise, J.D. Virginia-based electrical design-build firm M.C. Dean, Inc., has filed suit against the City of Miami Beach and a local IBEW chapter, accusing them of misappropriating M.C. Dean’s confidential employee information in violation of the Florida Uniform Trade Secrets Act (FUTSA) and the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), signed into law last week by President Obama. The complaint was filed in the federal district court in Miami. M.C. Dean was hired by Clark Construction Group, LLC, to work as a subcontractor on a project to renovate the Miami Beach Convention Center. As part of its contractual obligations, M.C. Dean provided Clark with “certified payrolls,” which contained private, personally identifying information of M.C. Dean’s employees, such as names, addresses, social security numbers, and driver’s license numbers, along with other confidential information such as pay rates, fringe benefits, hours worked, and other similar information. International Local Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 349, requested copies of certain M.C. Dean certified payrolls from the City of Miami Beach through a request made pursuant to Florida Public Records Act. M.C. Dean objected to the disclosure on the ground that the payroll records constituted “trade secrets” as defined by Fla. Stat. §812.081 and could not be disclosed pursuant to Florida law, including but not limited to Fla. Stat. §815.04. After receiving M.C. Dean’s statement, the City determined that it would only disclose redacted certified payrolls to Local 349. Despite this reassurance, on March 21, 2016, a city clerk improperly and “inadvertently” disclosed unredacted copies of the payrolls to Local 349, according to the complaint. M.C. Dean immediately requested that the City take appropriate steps to secure the return of the unredacted copies from Local 349 and demanded that Local 349 delete any digital or electronic copies of the information and destroy any physical copies of the information. Local 349 has purportedly refused to return the information to the City. M.C. Dean alleges that the City’s wrongful disclosure of M.C. Dean’s confidential payroll information and Local 349’s continued retention of the information constitutes willful misappropriation of its trade secrets in violation of the DTSA and the FUTSA. M.C. Dean claims it protects the proprietary information contained in its certified payrolls “to the greatest extent possible” and does not disclose it, “except under very limited circumstances, even within the company” or when disclosure is “required to comply with a legal obligation.” M.C. also alleges that compiling the information required a substantial investment and is valuable to others like Local 349. M.C. Dean is seeking injunctive relief, actual damages, exemplary damages, recovery of Local 349’s unjust enrichment, and an award of attorney fees. The case, M.C. Dean, Inc. v. City of Miami Beach, was filed in the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division; the case is No. 1:16-cv-21731-CMA.

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