What to Do If You Receive an Employment Cease-and-Desist Letter

What to Do If You Receive an Employment Cease-and-Desist Letter

Kimberly Clark
September 22, 2020

Employment cease-and-desist letters demand a former employee to stop doing something that the claimant sees as a violation of their rights. For instance, the employer could claim that the employee is violating a non-compete agreement, or that they have stolen trade secrets or intellectual property.

If you ever receive an employment cease-and-desist letter, below are the essential steps that you should take. Be sure to check these cease-and-desist letter templates to understand what you would deal with if you ever get one in the mail.

Stay Calm – It’s Not a Lawsuit

Many people start to panic when they receive a cease-and-desist letter. That’s a normal reaction, but there might be no reason to worry at the moment. Whether you have a job in the oil and gas sector, or a white-collar job, you can receive a cease-and-desist letter.

An employment cease-and-desist letter is not a lawsuit or a court order. It is simply a notice that your former employer is thinking about filing a lawsuit unless you stop doing what they consider to be a rights violation.

You are the one who can file a lawsuit first, right after receiving the letter. It may not be the best course of action, but it’s one of your available options.

You can think of a cease-and-desist letter as a warning of sorts, but it doesn’t have to mean that you’re even doing anything wrong.

So, stay calm and don’t reach out to your former employer or their attorney just yet. Otherwise, you might make the situation worse for you. For instance, you might say something that may be used against you in the court of law, if you eventually end up in court.

That’s why the next step is crucial.

Hire an Attorney

Hiring an experienced attorney is the most crucial step you should take if you ever receive a cease-and-desist letter. An attorney will help you go over all the claims that your former employer has made so that they can determine if they have merit.

Your attorney will advise you on the best course of action to effectively deal with the matter. You must gather all the necessary documentation regarding the claims and show them only to your attorney.

Once they thoroughly go over the documentation, they will determine whether a court could potentially enforce the claims or you have nothing to worry about.

Prepare the Right Response

Even if the claims that your former employer has made don’t have merit, it’s essential to respond to your cease-and-desist letter. If you choose to ignore it, you may only make matters worse because your former employer may proceed with filing a lawsuit against you.

Hiring an attorney to respond to the letter will also show your former employer that you’re not going to roll over and take the blame.

So, how do you respond to this letter? Your attorney may think a phone call to the former employer’s attorney is the best choice. They may also choose to send a request that will ask for additional information regarding the claims.

Another course of action may be sending all the facts proving that you’ve done nothing wrong, that is, proving that the claims have no merit.

If you have violated any rights, negotiating with the claimant’s attorney would be your best bet.

Be Ready to File a Lawsuit

If you haven’t violated any rights, and your former employee doesn’t want to negotiate, you can consider filing a lawsuit. Even if you’ve negotiated but with no avail, filing a lawsuit might be the smartest thing you can do. If you don’t do it, the claimant might.

Discuss this thoroughly with your attorney to make an informed decision. Consulting with your attorney will also help you calculate the costs of any legal action you may take.

If you do file a lawsuit, you can also make counterclaims to seek damage money from your former employer. You can turn any claims that they have made to your favor and maybe get a sort of compensation for any damage they may have caused to your reputation, earnings, and career.


Receiving an employment cease-and-desist letter can be frightening, especially if you haven’t violated any claimant’s rights. That’s why it’s essential to stay calm and develop the right strategy to respond and resolve the issue.

Hire a knowledgeable attorney with experience in the field who will provide you with the necessary legal counsel. They will help you take all the right steps for resolving the problem and minimizing your expenses. Whether you take the offensive or fix the issue before it goes to court, your attorney will help you eliminate any threat.

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