Changing jobs has become the norm in the modern age. Gone are the days where one spent her entire career at a single company. With more and more people changing jobs, often joining forces with competitors who offer more money or better opportunity, many employers end up unhappy, even angry.

To that end, one careless (and most times innocuous) error made by an employee before leaving for a competitor may cause severe repercussions. The employer can use a seemingly harmless action—for instance, the employee forwarding a work email to his personal email account before leaving the company—to allege that the employee stole the company’s trade secrets or confidential information. As part of a legal offensive against the former employee, a hard-line employer would likely turn to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), 18 USC 1030. This could be very bad news for the former employee because, as discussed below, the CFAA requires a minimal showing of damage or “loss” for a claim to survive, and many courts take an expansive view of the types of conduct that violate the CFAA.

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