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Accenture Lawsuit: Ex-Senior Exec Is ‘Imminent Threat’ To Trade Secrets

The massive solution provider said in a federal lawsuit that the former head of its midwest finance and risk practice “cannot help but unlawfully leverage Accenture’s confidential information and trade secrets” in her new role at a “direct competitor.”

Accenture is suing a former “senior executive” calling her an “imminent threat” to trade secrets, and demanding a federal judge slap her with an injunction that prohibits her from spilling confidential information to her new employer, a “direct competitor” in the same region – Boston Consulting Group.

Nadine El-Etr Moore worked as a managing director and the leader of the Finance & Risk practice for Accenture in the Midwest region, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, Southern District New York. That unit helps financial services firms and insurance companies with defining and implementing digital corporate solutions, managing profitability and expenses, simplifying operations, and addressing regulations, the lawsuit stated.

On July 29 she “abruptly” quit and took a job with Boston Consulting Group on August 12, in what the lawsuit said, is the same role and the same region she worked in with Accenture.

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“Moore’s work for BCG in the same capacity and territory is an imminent threat to Accenture’s confidential information and trade secrets, and is a direct and willful violation of the narrowly-tailored non-competition restriction,” the suit stated.

Attempts to reach Moore for comment were unsuccessful. When asked about the lawsuit, a spokeswoman for Boston Consulting Group, told CRN “we don’t comment on litigation.”

The suit states that Moore “abruptly delivered her resignation” via email on Monday, July 29, 2019. In her resignation, Moore stated that she had accepted a position at BCG, but “falsely assured Accenture” that she “did not believe” she would be competing with Accenture in her new role. She did not provide written details about her new role at BCG, the suit states.

Accenture claims by accepting the job, Moore “willfully eschewed” her responsibilities under a non-compete order she signed in December 2017 that forbids her from holding the same job, in the same region -- Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin -- for one year.

“In other words, Moore could have worked for BCG immediately in many different capacities, or in the same capacity she had at Accenture but outside of the Midwest Territory—which would not have been difficult given BCG’s international footprint and wide range of consulting services,” the suit claims. “Instead, Moore willfully eschewed her obligations to Accenture and has started working at BCG in direct violation of the non-competition restriction to which she agreed.”

Accenture said Moore started in its finance and risk unit four years ago, and in December 2017 was promoted to oversee it, earning a salary greater than $300,000.

“Moore led multiple teams of analysts, consultants, managers, and senior managers at any given time, directly engaged with numerous clients in the Midwest region, spoke on behalf of Accenture at industry events and in pitches to insurance and other financial services firms, and had approximately 35 people reporting to her at any given time,” the suit states.

Accenture mentioned two projects that Moore worked on calling them “Project A” and “Project B” both involved work with enterprise level clients and direct interactions with their c-suite executives. The company said the strategies she developed would be used with other clients as well.

Accenture praised Moore’s work and said she was handed internal recognition as well as several bonuses. On April 30, she was given a $75,000 retention bonus. The following day she was given a $150,000 retention equity award of restricted share units. Both had vesting restrictions. In 2018 she was given an annual bonus of $93,000, and in 2017, $48,000.

“After spending almost four years learning Accenture’s unique and highly-confidential client strategies and solutions, and receiving over a million of dollars in compensation along the way, Moore abruptly resigned to join Boston Consulting Group (“BCG”) in the very same capacity and in the very same territory as the position she held at Accenture,” according to the lawsuit.

Accenture said her new role is an “almost complete overlap” of her years of work for them. The suit said Boston Consulting Group is a “direct competitor” of Accenture’s, working as a consultant in finance and insurance, and “specifically touts and markets” its financial services and cybersecurity capabilities—two fields in which Moore specialized at Accenture, the suit states.

“Moore cannot help but unlawfully leverage Accenture’s confidential information and trade secrets to unfairly improve BCG’s position in the market and in competition with Accenture itself,” Accenture wrote.

In addition to the secret practices used in her own region, the suit says Moore “acquired Accenture’s confidential business and client information strategies for the next three to five years across several industries and markets.” Three weeks before she quit, Moore received a report labeled “Highly Confidential. Not To Be Distributed Further Without Authorization of the Sender.”

Accenture said inside was detailed data on the sales and revenue performance and forecasts for fiscal year 2019 for the region, financial forecasts and strategies for fiscal year 2020, “client-level sales and revenue projections,” client and prospect opportunities -- by client name and specific revenue opportunity -- for the remainder of fiscal 2019 and for fiscal 2020, and “more than 50 specific key actions for Accenture to take with respect to dozens of clients to increase sales and revenue opportunities.”

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