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I'm a shareholder and developer at a startup. Last month the board announced me that they will fire me, due to a merge with a partner as I'm considered redundant and all development will be moved to the partner.

Few weeks ago a professional "contact" asked me privately in FB how are we going during covid. I was still emotionally touched and I told him I was fired, and the cause was a new partnership, that the company decided to move dev to external partner, and that I thought with the saving they got from my dismissal they will be fine.

I deleted the message, but I think he read it. I'm fucking scared now. did I disclose confidential information? the "contact" is also contact of my CEO, and his company is one of our customer.

What could happen to me?

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  • Only if the merger hasn't been announced. It does depend on your contract and local law regarding corporate confidentiality. If you could a) let us know what jurisdictions are in play, and b) what your company's procedures are for confidential information - does it have to be clearly marked as being confidential, for instance. You could also do a bit of hunting on the net to see if the merger has been announced anywhere, that would certainly mean you're in the clear. May 3 '20 at 10:42
  • I don't know if the merger took place. One month ago they told me that the "partnership agreement" was received and that I was made redundant as result. I never saw the agreement nor I know the specific date.
    – ARisseu
    May 3 '20 at 13:19
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The fact that you have been laid off is both your company’s information, and your personal information. You are allowed to tell your own personal information. The move to a new partner however is not your information.

As long as you are still employed your employment contract will probably say that you mustn’t do anything to damage the company. You’d need to read what the consequences would be. Maybe the contract says you can be fired... which doesn’t matter unless you would lose a redundancy payment.

After leaving it would depend on whether you had a non-disclosure agreement.

And last, does your company care? This merger can’t be kept a secret anyway.

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  • I wrote out of emotion and bitterness on an impulse. Actually what I said was that the company will be benefit from my lay off and from the outsourcing. I don't know if that could be considered damaging
    – ARisseu
    May 3 '20 at 13:27
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did I disclose confidential information?

No. The substance of your disclosure to the FB contact is hardly confidential insofar as not only the merger already took place, but also the company now is restructuring itself as a result thereof.

Even if your contract or some binding document states that the information is confidential, it will be hard for the company to reasonably allege that your disclosure is or can be harmful. For instance, the fact that the merger already happened implies that it is impossible for your disclosure to preempt the merger by prompting either entity to discard it.

Information about clients is much likelier to be confidential, although your description nowhere reflects that you revealed that kind of information. Similarly with marketing and trade secrets.

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  • I don't know if the merger happened. I was informed the the partnership agreement has been just received and that I was made redundant as a result. I don't even know when and if it will take place
    – ARisseu
    May 3 '20 at 13:21
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    @ARisseu The rationale stands the same, meaning that you might be in trouble only if your disclosure has the direct or indirect effect of voiding the agreement (which is an equivalent of preempting the merger). May 3 '20 at 13:36

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