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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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My company has a policy regarding exit interviews that says

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My company has a policy regarding exit interviews that says "One of the subjects we will likely inquire about during the separation process is any future employment plans. The reason we do so is to identify situations where your may be joining one of our competitors. This will enable us to apprise you of applicable post-employment policies, such as our confidentiality policy. If you refuse to identify your future employer or do not otherwise cooperate with us regarding your exit, XXXXXX reserves the right to treat any accrued but unused PTO time as forfeited, unless state law dictates otherwise." This policy became effective 2008. I started with the company 11/09. So my question is, does CA labor law dictate otherwise? I am going to interview for another job and want to know my rights. I do not wish to say where I'm going if I accept the postion. Thank you for your consideration of this matter.


I downloaded and printed 32 pages of CA labor law. I think what my employer is saying is illegal but I want to make sure as interview is tomorrow.

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question.

Yes, California law does dictate otherwise. First of all, accrued PTO in the state of California is regarded as a "wage earned," and wages cannot be forfeited for any reason. Any policy through which an employer can revoke accrued PTO would be unenforceable and void in the state of California.

Furthermore, Business and Professions Code section 16600 states: "Except as provided in this chapter, every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void." Thus, an employer cannot institute any rule that has the effect of limiting an employee's right to compete.

The only relevant exception here is for trade secrets, which are protectable. Civil Code 3426.1 defines "Trade secret as:

nformation, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process, that:

(1) Derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to the public or to other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and

(2) Is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.

To the extent that any "confidentiality agreement" exceeds these bounds, it would not typically be enforceable, as it would constitute a restraint on trade, which B & P 16600 prohibits.

Also worthy of note with regard to the particular policy you have described is that there is no reason an employer must know who you are going to be working for in order to "apprise you of applicable post-employment policies." Why not just apprise everyone of the "post employment policies"? This just seems like a poorly disguised attempt to get you to reveal information about where you are going which the employer has no right to know.

In short, an employer cannot take away or threaten to take away accrued PTO if you do not reveal information about your future employer, nor can an employer enforce an agreement that functions as a restraint on your ability to compete. The only exception is for trade secrets, which are defined above.

I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX this information helps you and I wish you the best.

If you do not have any further concerns, I would be very grateful if you would give my answer a positive rating and click submit, as this is the only way I will receive credit for assisting you. If you have any additional concerns that you would like me to address, please feel free to let me know by hitting the REPLY or CONTINUE CONVERSATION button and I will be more than happy to continue assisting you.

Finally, please bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.

Thank you and very kindest regards.
Patrick, Esq. and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you very much for your rating of my answer and sorry about the problem with the italics half way through. I had put a bracketed "i" at the beginning of the setence "Information, including a formula..." and the system confused that as me telling it to convert everything to italics.

Best of luck to you moving forward!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

No worries. It looks more "official" that way. I got the new position and will be informing present employer tomorrow. Now to write that resignation letter....


Best of luck to you moving forward and thank you for using Just Answer.