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Sep 28, 2015

By Eric B. Meyer

What do you do when your company’s secrets are out in 140 characters?

In Texas, there’s restaurant called Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers. A local FOX affiliate reports that a recently-fired employee promptly raised cain (see what I did there?) by taking to Twitter and sharing the recipe for Raising Cane’s famous sauce recipe.

According to the FOX report, social media did its thing and the tweet went viral, with thousands of retweets.

So much for the secret sauce.

In a dose of damage control following the leak of the recipe, Raising Cane’s responded on Twitter, saying “Did you know that only our Restaurant General Managers are told the secrets of our Cane’s Sauce? Now you know!” Another article indicates that what the former employee shared is not the secret sauce.

How do you stop a former employee for sharing your trade secrets on social media?

Tips to protect your secrets

I’ve got a few basic tips:

  1. Protect your trade secrets. Make sure that you are taking prophylactic measures to make sure that information that is supposed to be confidential remains that way. A handbook provision is good. Training is good. A non-disclosure agreement is good.
  2. Label trade secrets and confidential information. That way employees don’t have to guess.
  3. Remind your employees not to share trade secrets and other confidential information. Yeah, I know. That seems kinda, “duh.” But, you’d be surprised the number of companies that take this for granted.
  4. Limit access to confidential information. Confidential information should be shared only with those employees who need access. And make sure that those employees safeguard those trade secrets
  5. Have a plan for offboarding. Require that all confidential information (and copies) be returned. Remind soon-to-be former employees that they cannot share confidential information. Make them sign a document reaffirming their obligation to not to share.

Obviously, there’s no 100 percent solution. But, these steps will help.