Pennsylvania courts will issue injunctive relief to enjoin a former employee: from using on behalf of, or disclosing to, a competitor confidential and trade secret information; from working for a competitor when such competition violates the terms of a reasonably drafted non-compete agreement; and even from engaging in a competitive business when the former employer has proved actual misappropriation of its confidential and trade secret information. The question remains, however, as to how willing the Pennsylvania courts are to apply the inevitable disclosure doctrine, and prohibit a former employee from working for a competitor, in the absence of actual misappropriation when it can be shown that the former employee cannot perform her job without inevitably using or disclosing a former employer's confidential and trade secret information. This question is significant because more employers are attempting to impose de facto non-compete agreements upon their former employees.
This article analyzes the current status of the inevitable disclosure doctrine in Pennsylvania and discusses some of the significant inevitable disclosure doctrine cases prevalent in other jurisdictions. It also highlights the rationale frequently employed by courts refusing to adopt or apply the doctrine. Finally, it sets forth some of the considerations that should be taken into account by practitioners.