Plan exit interviews for workers privy to proprietary information

published in The Oklahoman | March 15, 2016

While it’s not always practical for employers to conduct exit interviews with every departing employee – especially when a company is laying off a large number of employees in a short amount of time – it’s critical that employers take the time to conduct exit interviews with every employee who worked with proprietary or confidential information. That’s the advice of intellectual property attorney Rachel Blue, who was interviewed by The Oklahoman about the need for employers to ensure their assets don’t leave with departing employees, accidentally or otherwise.

“If human resources professionals are handling the interview, they may not know what the employee did every day,” said Blue. “Involving the employee’s supervisor and IT staff ahead of time may help ensure that the employee is asked the right questions about proprietary information. Beyond that, the person conducting the interview should be familiar with employment agreements and policies that address the employee’s obligation to return devices and information. Be sure the employee’s access to company information is disabled and proprietary information is removed from devices that the employee is keeping. Be sure there is some redundancy of access to the files among remaining employees, and change any necessary passwords.”

She also recommends asking employees whether proprietary information has been stored in the cloud or offsite on other personal devices. Talking about it, she said, makes it easier for the employee to return information if it’s discovered later.