Should I ask for compensation from my former employer for the idea for a process that I came up with?

About 4 years ago, I was asked to give ideas on how to improve a current process within a company I was working in. Current process involved multiple excel pages and if a process changed it would require for us to update 20 plus pages, one at a time. I proposed to create a database and a web site so that it can be easily managed. If a process changed, we would need to change on the site and not 20 pages. I was tasked to create a mock website to present and corporate liked it. Present day website is almost complete, however, I have been terminated for other reasons, yet the company is still using my idea. Should I or could I ask for compensation? I had asked while employed about compensation and I was told yes, but only verbally. To date, I have not ever been compensated.

Asked on September 1, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If the idea for this process was formed and developed during your tenure as an employee, then it is the property of your employer (or ex-employer). An employer owns any process, idea or the like developed on company time. That having been said, it can choose to compensate an employee for it but it is not legally required to do so, therefore it can change its mind about making such a payment.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You are not legally entitled to any compensation, though your former employer is free to voluntarily pay you compensation, if they choose to do so. When you come up with an idea or process improvement for work, that is part of your job and the idea/improvement belongs legally to the employer, regardless of what later happens to you employment.

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