Posted by Andrew on November 1, 2019

Congratulations on getting that new job your applied for. It's time for you to leave your current employer, but remember that employment contract you signed when you first started? There will probably be a clause in there that talks about confidentiality and not sharing commercially sensitive information. After all, that information belongs to your current employer.

In this article from Petro Global News, an ex-employee of TAG Oil broke this fundamental rule. Not only was it illegal (both criminally and in the eyes of the Employment Relations Authority) but the employees reputation will be forever tarnished. It also cost the employee a very large financial penalty.

An oil worker in New Zealand has been ordered to pay over US$60,000 for taking hundreds of thousands of sensitive files from his then employer Tag Oil. Canadian James Watchorn copied large amounts of data, much of it confidential and commercially sensitive, before he left the company  in July 2012, the New Zealand Employment Relations Authority (ERA) announced.

The ERA ordered Watchorn to pay US$55,830 in special damages to Tag Oil.

He was also ordered to pay four penalties of US$2,554 each, half to be paid to the company and half to the government. 

Watchorn was found guilty earlier this year on three charges relating to the data theft.

Tag Oil brought a separate case to the ERA against Watchorn. The ERA decision said that after leaving Tag Oil, Watchorn went to work for a direct competitor, New Zealand Energy Corp (NZEC).

Watchorn admitted downloading a large amount data from Tag Oil to his personal hard drive on June 7, 2012. The next day he flew to Canada on a family vacation.

He claimed he needed access to work documents and templates while on leave.

“Approximately 350,000 documents were captured in the dump of which, by Mr. Watchorn’s own estimate only 1000 would have been templates,” said ERA member Trish MacKinnon.