Corporate competition is fierce in this uneasy economy. Companies in New York and elsewhere can be even more determined to protect their interests and products these days. However, for an average employee, an employer's request for discretion and confidentiality may not be fully appreciated. Because of this, it can be very important for business leaders to be very explicit in what information is to be protected. In many cases, companies have employees sign a non-disclosure agreement.

These types of agreements can be difficult for person without a legal background to understand. Combine the complex language with how severely people can be punished for violating the terms of a non-disclosure agreement and employees can find themselves in a contract dispute without truly understanding why.

Many companies try to be as clear and open as possible when it comes to communicating the terms of a non-disclosure agreement with workers. Recently, the CEO of US Airways sent an email to all company employees clearly explaining that they had signed a non-disclosure agreement with another airline. He explains that the contract was signed so that each company could speak openly about finances and other sensitive information as they discuss the possibility of a merger.

As the CEO explains to employees, they are not allowed to discuss this work with anyone who is not covered by the contract. He also tells the employees that there is no end date as of yet to the agreement.

This type of open communication and explanation surrounding the signing of a non-disclosure agreement is very beneficial for employees. Clearly stating the intent and scope of an NDA can help people avoid violating the terms of a contract, which can lead to serious penalties and litigation.

Source: USA Today, "Full text: Parker's letter on non-disclosure pact with American," Ben Mutzabaugh, Sept. 4, 2012

• Our firm works closely with those who are involved in various non-disclosure cases. For more information on this topic, please visit our New York City employment law page.