Duty of care and loyalty
Every employee is under a duty to avoid any behavior that is likely to cause economic harm to the employer. Employees are obliged to safeguard the legitimate interests of the employer and to observe the utmost secrecy regarding all confidential company data. They must not disclose, transfer, lend or use any of the employer's secrets. This obligation continues even after the employment relationship has ended.
Particularly unfair acts of the employee, in addition to violating his duty of loyalty, violates the Federal Law against Unfair Competition. An employee who engages in conduct constituting an act of unfair competition may be subject to rather severe criminal penalties.
This is the case when the employee discloses business or manufacturing secrets to a competitor or exploits, in his own interest or that of a third party, the result of the employer's work. Similarly, the poaching of the former employer's customers by the employee after the end of the employment relationship may, under certain conditions, fall under the heading of unfair competition. Particularly serious is the behavior of an employee who films or photographs prototypes or confidential customer lists.
In the event of such behavior, the employer must act quickly against his or her employee or former employee in order to safeguard his/her economic interests. Under certain conditions, the employer can take legal action to have the employee or former employee immediately cease all acts of unfair competition. A claim for damages is also possible, depending on the case.