Archive for March, 2014

Question For Businesses: How Can You Trust your Employees?

March 28, 2014 Leave a comment

I recently met with some business owner clients.  There is no simple way around it, they were in a serious mess.




Clients own several businesses. They most recently purchased a business that had a lot of potential for growth. With the business, client assumed the employees of the business.  All signs were that all employees were on board with the change in ownership. My clients were excited to be running a new company and creating a friendly work culture.


After several months two key employees left and took with them several significant accounts that effectively turned the business upside down.


My clients were shocked.


They trusted the employees


What happened?


The clients knew that former employee had compiled a list of the business’ clients; surely there must be something they can do to stop him?
Unfortunately, at this point the clients are pretty limited in their legal remedies.
As an unpublished Michigan Court of Appeals decision from October held:
“A list of customers compiled by a former employee from personal and public sources available to that employee is not protectable as a trade secret…This is true even if the former employee has learned about the “peculiar needs of particular clients” from his employment.”  Indus Control Repair, Inc v McBroom Elec Co, Inc, No. 302240, 2013 WL 5576336 (Mich Ct App October 10, 2013)


There are certain rights that business owners have under the Michigan Uniform Trade Secrets Act, but customer lists compiled from personal sources was not one of them, and this is exactly what the employee took.


At this point, unless there was evidence that proprietary/confidential information was taken, my clients are left with protecting their remaining business by having all remaining key persons enter into “non-competition, non-solicitation, non-disclosure agreements.”


As the Court of appeals indicated regarding customer lists compiled from a public source,  although such information may be protectable by a non-competition agreement, such information is a not a trade secret.” Id.




Although you can do things to give your key employees incentives to remain faithful to your company, sometimes you can get duped. My clients are trusting people, and they wanted to see and believe the best in people. When they purchased this business having their employees enter into non-competes did not even cross their minds.


However, entering into written contacts that are reasonable in how they protect your legitimate business interest is  best practice. It also provides clear communication of what conduct is expected of employees. If you have such agreements in place and they have been clearly communicated to your employees, you will be in the best position to trust them.


Questions? Comments?







Categories: Uncategorized

Michigan Real Estate Law Update: Evict by E-mail?

March 24, 2014 6 comments

Investment Property Owners/Managers must be active at the State Capitol.


On March 18 House Bill 5415 was proposed.  You can check it out here


As far as proposed legislation goes, this is probably the most uncomplicated bill I have seen in a long time.


It would provide that  a “Demand For Possession” could be served via e-mail, if authorized in a written agreement.


Anyone who has had to go through the unpleasant process of either evicting a tenant, or being evicted, knows that the process itself is heavily “form driven”. What I mean, is that, unlike other areas of the law, the process of eviction is a standardized process with standardized SCAO (State Court Administrative Office) Approved forms.

The first form that you must serve on a tenant if you intend to evict them is a “Demand For Possession.” Serving this Demand on the tenant is required before you can actually evict a tenant.


Depending on the type of eviction, it can be a “7-day demand” “30-day demand” even a “24-hour demand”.


Given the great body of state law that provides residential tenants with certain rights, commonly known as the  “Truth in Lending Act” it isn’t surprising that Property Owners/Management are trying to find creative ways to be as efficient as possible when trying to terminate a bad tenant relationship.
Certainly sending an e-mail “LEAVE THE PREMISES IN 7 DAYS OR I WILL SEE YOU IN COURT” might be a quick way to get across the message to a tenant. But then again, if a tenant is not paying his/her rent, e-mail might not be the best way to reach them; I wonder what the chances are that they are not paying their phone/internet service provider?








Categories: Uncategorized

Michigan legislative update and my guest blog post on the Michigan Consumer Protection Act

March 10, 2014 Leave a comment


I recently posted a Guest Blog on GRAPE, titled “Business owners: What you should know about the Michigan Consumer Protection Act”: You can view it here


Also, for a look at some updates in Michigan proposed legislation check out the Michigan Public Policy Resource Center


I would like to note that I am encouraged to see the legislation that is being proposed to protect Victims of Sex Trafficking in Michigan. Michigan, as a state, (in my own opinion) is somewhat behind in protecting the victims of crimes.  For more information on National Crime Victims Rights, check out NAVRA



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