The Computer Fraud & Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030 (“CFAA”), since its amendment in 1994 to include civil provisions, has become a potentially powerful tool that employers can use against departing employees and their new employers. The civil provisions of the CFAA create a private right of action against those who wrongfully access, or exceed their authorized access, to a protected computer (as defined by the CFAA to includes computers used in interstate or foreign commerce or communication), thereby causing the requisite damage or loss.
Given the state of the economy, employers are more conscious than ever of the need to protect trade secrets and customer relationships when an employee leaves, especially when the departing employee is opening a competitive company or joining a competitive firm. Employers often neglect, however, to take advantage of a very simple, but extremely important, tool in dealing with departing employees: the exit interview.
When employees jump ship, a company still may have legal options, even when the employees didn't sign non-competes.