Can I have an employee’s house and/or car searched?

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Can I have an employee’s house and/or car searched?

An employee has been taking home our patients’ medical files. She has been told twice not to and that it violates our patients’ privacy. I do not have proof but she has started a home business and I think she is copying information from our patients’ files to use in her new business. I intend on firing her but I am concerned about just how much of my business info she has copied and has at home. What can I do?

Asked on May 2, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you believe she has committed crimes--stolen property, including files belonging to your company--you may report her to the police; if you have some evidence or grounds for this, the police *may* take action--though they may not; they may consider it primarily a civil dispute.

You can yourself bring a legal action in civil court against this person. You could file a lawsuit seeking an injunction, to prevent her from taking or using information, as well as seeking economic damages. You'd need some grounds to initiate the suit, but once initiated, could use the legal process of "discovery" to get more evidence. You should speak to a business attorney about this possibility.

In the future, have all employees sign confidentiality agreements and key employees sign non-soliciation and non-competition agreements for more protection.


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