No matter what sector of the work force you work in, many aspects of the work you do for your employer should be kept confidential. Some employers prefer to legally protect their interests by having you sign a nondisclosure or confidentiality agreement.
If you're asked to sign one of these agreements, then your employer likely believes that the information that you'll be exposed to while working for them could give another company a competitive advantage against them. They may also have you sign this type of agreement as a way to protect them from liability if you were to be exposed to and publicly disclose private information about an individual or company.
After you sign such an agreement, the penalties for violating it may be severe. In most cases, it will be written into your job contract that any disclosure of proprietary information without consent of the company's ownership will be considered a breach of your contract. In this scenario, this means you will inevitably be fired from your job.
Another possible consequence of you violating a confidentiality agreement is that you may be sued civilly for doing so. If an employer is able to prove that they lost revenue to a competitor because their trade secrets were shared, then they may be able to sue you. If they do, then you'll likely be asked to pay back any money they would have otherwise made.
An employee who breaches a confidentiality agreement may also face criminal charges for theft.
Even if you only lose your job as a result of having disclosed confidential information, the breach of the agreement may cost you far more, especially when it comes to your reputation. This is especially the case if you work in certain niche industries where everyone knows each other. If it's well-known that you shared the trade secrets of your own employer, then another company may be just as leery that you'll do the same to them.
If you have been accused of breaching a contract or confidentiality agreement, then a Winston-Salem attorney can advise you of your rights in your case.