Sixth Circuit | OK to fire employee who shares confidential corporate documents with her attorney
The Sixth Circuit recently condoned the firing of a woman who shared confidential corporate documents with her attorney. In a surprising decision, the Sixth Circuit upheld Cincinnati Insurance Company's firing of a woman for sharing in-house documents with her attorney. The plaintiff was a member of a class action alleging discrimination by her employer, CIC. She claimed that after joining the suit, she was subjected to intense retaliation and had turned over every in-house document she had in her possession to her attorneys. The case is Niswander v. Cincinnati Insurance Company.
This case, arising in an apparently unconvincing factual context, is a trap for the unwary employee and her attorney. The three judges identified a six-factor test to be considered when the dissemination of confidential documents is under consideration. Although they could not agree on how to apply that test, the judges stressed, in particular, the materiality of the documents to the employee's underlying claim and the availability of alternative means of documenting the evidence.