The ADA Also Prohibits Discrimination Based On An Employee’s Relationship Or Association With An Individual With Cancer

We are blogging on Mark Oberti’s paper on the “5 Things Employers And Employees Need To Know About Cancer In The Workplace

In a little known part of the ADA, the law provides that it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an individual because of his relationship or association with an individual with a disability. 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a), (b)(4). More informally, this provision prohibits three types of discrimination against employees associated with, or related to someone with, a disability:

• Discrimination based on expense: where an employee suffers an adverse employment action because of an association with a disabled individual covered under the employer’s health plan, which is costly to the employer.

• Discrimination based on disability by association: where the employer fears that the employee may contract the disability of the person he or she is associated with (e.g., HIV), or the employee is genetically predisposed to develop a disability that his or her relatives have.

• Discrimination based on distraction: where the employee suffers an adverse employment action based on the employer’s speculation that they will be inattentive at work because of the disability of someone with whom he or she is associated.

Relying on this theory, the EEOC sued the employer in E.E.O.C. v. DynMcdermott Petroleum Operations Co., 537 Fed. Appx. 437 (5th Cir. 2013), the EEOC alleged that the employer had refused to hire an otherwise outstanding candidate because his wife had cancer. The district court threw the EEOC’s lawsuit out, but in 2013 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s decision and remanded the case for trial.

Posted in Disability, EEOC, FMLA, Houston Employment Law, Human Resources | Tagged , , , , , ,

Victims Of Disability Discrimination Have Short Time Limits To Act

We are blogging on Mark Oberti’s paper on the “5 Things Employers And Employees Need To Know About Cancer In The Workplace

Under the ADA, an employee has only 300 days to file an EEOC Charge of Discrimination from the date they learn the employer is going to, or has taken an action against them in violation of the law. Under a Texas state law version of the ADA, that deadline is only 180 days to file a Charge of Discrimination with the Texas Workforce Commission – Civil Rights Division. Furthermore, the 300-day or 180-day limits can be triggered by events far short of actual termination. Therefore, if you believe that your employer or former employer has discriminated against you based on a disability, perceived disability, or record of disability – such as cancer – it is imperative to comply with these deadlines.

Posted in Disability, Discrimination, EEOC, FMLA, Houston Employment Law, Human Resources | Tagged , , , , , ,

The FMLA Provides Some Job Protection For Cancer Victims, But Is Very Technical

We are blogging on Mark Oberti’s paper on the “5 Things Employers And Employees Need To Know About Cancer In The Workplace

The FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave per year for employees suffering from a serious health condition. An employee is eligible for FMLA leave when he or she has worked for a “covered employer” at least twelve months, and worked “at least 1,250 hours of service with his employer during the previous 12 month period.” 29 U.S.C. §§ 2611(2)(A) & 2611(2)(B)(ii). To be a “covered employer” under the FMLA, a business must “employ 50 or more employees for each working day during each of 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year.” 29 U.S.C. § 2611(4)(A)(I).

Interference with FMLA rights includes “not only refusing to authorize FMLA leave, but discouraging an employee from using such leave.” 29 C.F.R. § 825.220(b). Furthermore, “employers cannot use the taking of FMLA leave as a negative factor in employment actions, such as hiring, promotions or disciplinary actions.” Id. § 825.220(c). For example, in Kinney v. Holiday Companies, 398 Fed. Appx. 282 (9th Cir. 2010), the employee took FMLA leave for cancer treatment, returned to work, and was fired a year later – shortly after her cancer returned. She sued under the FMLA, and presented evidence that the employer’s managers involved in the termination decision were aware that her cancer had returned and discussed whether she had taken FMLA leave shortly before she was terminated. The Court of Appeals concluded that “[s]uch evidence creates a triable issue as to whether her potential need for FMLA leave in the future was a negative factor in Holiday’s decision to terminate her.” Id. at 284.

The FMLA is a highly technical law. Employees and employers should generally not try to navigate it without guidance from experienced labor and employment lawyers, such as Mark Oberti and Ed Sullivan – both of whom are Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Posted in Disability, EEOC, FMLA, Houston Employment Law, Human Resources | Tagged , , , , ,

The EEOC Is Focused On The ADA Rights Of Employees With Cancer, Especially Ones With Reasonable Accommodation Issues

We are blogging on Mark Oberti’s paper on the “5 Things Employers And Employees Need To Know About Cancer In The Workplace

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) is the federal government agency that investigates alleged violations of the ADA, issues guidance and regulations on the ADA, and has the authority to sue employers that it believes have violated the ADA. Since the the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (“ADAAA”) took effect in 2009, the EEOC has become very focused on cancer rights under the ADA, and particularly on employer’s obligations to make reasonable accommodations for the known disability-related workplace limitations of cancer victims.

For example, shortly after the ADAAA was passed, the EEOC brought suit in E.E.O.C. v. Journal Disposition Corp., NO. 1:10-CV-886, 2011 WL 5118735, (W.D. Mich. Oct. 27, 2011). There, the EEOC alleged that the employer violated the ADA when it refused to permit the cancer-stricken employee to work four hours a day, five days a week, every other week, for some period of time after his chemotherapy treatments ended. The employer moved to throw the case out without a trial, but the court refused to do so, instead finding that “[w]hether the accommodation proposed by Nelson was objectively reasonable is a question of fact for a jury.” Id. at *4.

Last year, the EEOC issued a guidance memorandum entitled “Questions & Answers about Cancer in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).” The guidance is here. In the guidance, the EEOC explains that, “[a]n employer must provide a reasonable accommodation that is needed because of the limitations caused by the cancer itself, the side effects of medication or treatment for the cancer, or both. For example, an employer may have to accommodate an employee who is unable to work while she is undergoing chemotherapy or who has depression as a result of cancer, the treatment for it, or both.” The EEOC’s guidance is helpful to both employers and employees confronting cancer in the workplace.

Posted in Disability, EEOC, FMLA, Houston Employment Law | Tagged , , , , , ,

Cases Involving Employees With Cancer Who Are Fired Are Inherently High Risk, And Can Lead To Large Verdicts

We are blogging on Mark Oberti’s paper on the “5 Things Employers And Employees Need To Know About Cancer In The Workplace

The first thing to know is that cases involving employees with cancer who are fired are inherently high risk, and can lead to large verdicts.

Almost every juror has experienced the loss of a loved one from cancer. Thus, hearing about an employee with cancer who was fired is likely to immediately emotionally resonate with them. Given that reality, unless the employer has a very compelling – and objectively provable – reason for firing the employee, the employer could face a large adverse verdict.

For example, in 2010 a jury ordered Michaels Stores, Inc. to pay Kara Jorud, a former store manager, $8.1 million for firing her while she was undergoing chemotherapy after having being diagnosed with breast cancer. The jury found that Michaels violated Jorud’s rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).

Just one week after undergoing surgeries, including a double mastectomy, Michaels’ district manager, Skip Sands, allegedly began calling Jorud daily, urging her to return to work—even though she was projected to need nine to 10 weeks of recovery time. Allegedly fearing she would lose her job, Jorud returned to work much sooner than the three months she was entitled to under the FMLA. She allegedly forfeited paid time off and cut her pre-approved vacation time. Notwithstanding, Sands allegedly continued to harass her, questioning her need for more time off. When Jorud told Sands she needed a Friday off for more chemotherapy treatment, he allegedly told her she needed to be back to work on the following Monday. Finally, in frustration, Jorud sent an email to human resources: “I am losing faith in the company that says, ‘Michaels Cares!’ It is disillusioning to me to think that a company that caters largely to women, with a large quantity of women employees, is trying so hard to get rid of a female manager because she was unfortunate to get a women’s disease!” Michaels allegedly did nothing. Ultimately, Jorud was fired a day before her next scheduled chemotherapy session.

One of Michaels’ initial allegations was that Jorud had stolen merchandise from the store. This backfired, however, when Jorud produced her sales receipt. Thereafter, Michaels claimed it fired Jorud for violating a company policy which prohibits employees from purchasing older and discontinued merchandise about to be thrown away. This too backfired, however, when Plaintiff produced several employees who testified that violating these policies were not fire-worthy, as they had done the same thing and were not terminated.

This case demonstrates that jurors are highly sympathetic to discrimination and retaliation claims by cancer-stricken employees. While managers and HR staff should be trained on employee rights under the FMLA and ADA, just knowing the rules is not enough when it comes to dealing with employees with cancer. In such cases, the rules must be implemented in a sensible, sensitive, morally upstanding, and respectful manner.

Posted in Disability, EEOC, FMLA, Houston Employment Law, Human Resources | Tagged , , , , ,

Cancer In The Workplace

Mark Oberti has written a paper on the “5 Things Employers and Employees Need to Know About Cancer in the Workplace.” We will prepare a series of blog posts about this important issue in employment law.

Posted in Disability, FMLA, Houston Employment Law, Human Resources | Tagged , , , , , ,

Post-Rimkus Duty of Preservation and Spoliation of Evidence Decisions (Part VIII)

We are blogging on “Non-competes, Trade Secrets, Fiduciary Duties, and the Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine.” Mark Oberti has prepared a detailed paper on all of these issues, which can be found here.

The following post discusses how other courts view Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc. v. Cammarata, 688 F. Supp. 2d 598, 612–13 (S.D. Tex. 2010).

In Doe v. Northside I.S.D., No. SA-11-CV-412-XR, 2012 WL 3236003 (W.D. Tex. Aug. 6, 2012) the Court looked at Rimkus in depth despite granting Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Doe is a Title IX and § 1983 action against the school district, and teacher, and a vice-principal and arises out of inappropriate romantic relationship developed between a female teacher and her female middle-school student.

Sarah Doe was a middle school student in a Northside I.S.D. school. Nora Martinez was a teacher at NISD’s middle school for approximately 7 years. Sarah Doe’s parents allege that on January 23, 2011, they discovered that Nora Martinez, was having an inappropriate relationship with Sarah. The next day they went to the school and relayed their concerns and showed school administrators the cell phone text messages that they discovered. On January 24, 2011, Ms. Martinez admitted to an improper relationship and resigned her employment.

Id. at *1 (footnotes omitted).

During the discovery period, Plaintiffs argued that Defendant failed to preserve evidence including security camera footage and other electronic evidence, such as e-mails. The Court ruled in favor of the Defendant at summary judgment because Plaintiffs failed to show that the District had “actual notice” of the events nor could Plaintiffs show that District acted with “deliberate indifference.” However, the Court went on to discuss the preservation and spoliation issues raised by Plaintiffs and do a thorough analysis of Rimkus:

Generally, the duty to preserve arises when a party has notice that the evidence is relevant to litigation or should have known that the evidence may be relevant to future litigation. The duty to preserve extends to documents or tangible things by or to individuals “likely to have discoverable information that the disclosing party may use to support its claims or defenses.” Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc. v. Cammarata, 688 F. Supp. 2d 598, 612–13 (S.D. Tex. 2010).

In this case Plaintiffs seek the sanction of an adverse inference instruction based on spoliation of evidence. Alternatively, Plaintiffs seeks the forensic examination of the computers assigned to Aslin, Liendo, Munson, Martinez and the NISD police department.

“It is well established that a party seeking the sanction of an adverse inference instruction based on spoliation of evidence must establish that: (1) the party with control over the evidence had an obligation to preserve it at the time it was destroyed; (2) the evidence was destroyed with a culpable state of mind; and (3) the destroyed evidence was ‘relevant’ to the party’s claim or defense such that a reasonable trier of fact could find that it would support that claim or defense.” Id. at 615–16.

Doe, 2012 WL 3236003 at *8.

The Court decided “[u]nderstandably, given the offense committed against Sarah, and the District’s past mistakes in locating and producing relevant documents, Sarah’s parents and attorneys are wary that the District has fulfilled all of its discovery obligations. Plaintiffs, however, merely provide their subjective belief and conclusory statements that other emails must exist. This is insufficient to establish that sanctionable behavior has occurred.” Id. at *10.

Posted in Discrimination, Houston Employment Law, Houston Executive Lawyer, Non Compete Agreements, Trade Secrets

Post-Rimkus Duty of Preservation and Spoliation of Evidence Decisions (Part VII)

We are blogging on “Non-competes, Trade Secrets, Fiduciary Duties, and the Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine.” Mark Oberti has prepared a detailed paper on all of these issues, which can be found here.

The following post discusses how other courts view Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc. v. Cammarata, 688 F. Supp. 2d 598, 612–13 (S.D. Tex. 2010).

Five months after Aviva, a Northern District of Illinois court also cited Rimkus in a spoliation related ruling. Domanus v. Lewicki, No. 08 C 4922, 2012 WL 2072866 (N.D. Ill. June 8, 2012). The Plaintiffs in Domanus alleged “a complex, bi-continental racketeering and fraud scheme spanning over ten years.” Id. at *1. The spoliation issue arose when Defendants destroyed a hard drive that Plaintiffs claim had relevant electronic evidence. Defense counsel submitted 1,800 page of documents recovered from a hard drive belonging to one of the Defendants. Plaintiffs’ counsel believed there was more to be learned and requested forensic inspection of the hard drive. Defense counsel stated that the hard drive was not in her possession yet two weeks later she reported that there were additional documents on the hard drive and at a hearing she requested additional time to review the data. The Court granted her 60 days and reminded counsel of their obligation to preserve evidence. At the end of the 60 days, no evidence was provided and Defense counsel moved to withdraw. When new counsel stepped in, Court reminded them of the duty to preserve as well stating “you have told your clients that that Hard Drive has got to be preserved. And if you didn’t, you should.” Defendants eventually produced 22,942 pages of documents. Plaintiffs were concerned that the production was still incomplete or altered and renewed their request for a forensic inspection of the Hard Drive. Defendants’ counsel informed Plaintiffs that Defendants could not consent to a forensics examination because the Hard Drive had been disassembled and was no longer available. Defendants asserted that the Hard Drive “crashed” in May 2009. Specifically, they asserted:

Richard Swiech testified that he took the Hard Drive to an Apple store to be repaired but learned that it should be replaced, which is what he had done on May 19, 2009. Upon learning from “someone else” that the Hard Drive would cost about $2,700 to repair, Richard Swiech spoke with Defendant Lewicki, who thought he might be able to repair it. In December 2009 or January 2010, Richard Swiech sent the Hard Drive to Lewicki, who was in Poland at the time. Using a “special software program,” Lewicki was “able to recover some files from the Hard Drive.” Richard Swiech “received those files and prepared them in PDF format for purposes of discovery in this case.” Thereafter, in February 2010, “because the hard drive was inoperable and useless, other than for the fact that it contained shiny, interesting parts, [Lewicki] gave it to [his] friend’s children to play with.”

Id. at *3 (internal notations omitted).

After careful review of the evidence the court found numerous problems with Defendants’ claims:

The Court finds that much of Defendants’ explanation for discarding the Hard Drive is incredible. First, the production from the Hard Drive included many documents from 2010 and 2011—after the Hard Drive was allegedly destroyed—including a facsimile dated August 18, 2010, an email dated January 3, 2011, an email dated April 28, 2011, and contracts revised on July 11, 2011, and November 11, 2011. Second, Richard Swiech contends that in May 2009, he took the computer, which contained the Hard Drive to the Apple Store for repairs, and attaches an invoice for that visit. But the invoice is clearly dated February 22, 2012, and Richard Swiech provides no explanation for the handwritten note on the invoice which states, “Repair done 5/19/2009.” Third, Defendants’ version of events conflicts with their prior representations. Defendants did not produce any documents from the Hard Drive until May 2011, when they stated that the documents have been “recovered from a hard drive belonging to Richard Swiech and have been unavailable until now.” But if the Hard Drive crashed in May 2009 and documents recovered in early 2010, the documents would not have been “unavailable” until May 2011. Furthermore, despite the subject of the Hard Drive and its contents being discussed at numerous status conferences—including several requests by Plaintiffs’ counsel to have it forensically inspected—Defendants’ counsel never indicated that the Hard Drive had been destroyed two years prior. On the contrary, on at least two occasions, Defendants’ counsel stated that the Hard Drive was in Richard Swiech’s possession in Illinois. Consequently, these facts lend credence to Plaintiffs’ contention that the Hard Drive was destroyed during the midst of discovery in this litigation, after Defendants produced some documents from it, and only after Plaintiffs requested that it be forensically inspected.

Id. at *7 (internal notations omitted).

The court found that while “the destruction of the Hard Drive reflects ‘extraordinarily poor judgment’ and evinces ‘gross negligence’ of Defendants’ duties to preserve potentially relevant evidence in the face of Plaintiffs’ litigation,” the Plaintiffs had not met their burden to prove that Defendants had acted in bad faith. Id. at *8. “Plaintiffs have failed to provide any evidence that Defendants acted with the intent to destroy adverse information, Plaintiffs have not demonstrated that Defendants acted in bad faith. Nor have Plaintiffs established that the destruction of the Hard Drive prevented them the use of an essential or crucial piece of evidence.” Id. at *11. Based on this decision, the Court held that “that a ‘spoliation charge’ to the jury is the most appropriate way to proceed.” Id. The Court then turned to Rimkus for guidance on how the “spoliation charge” would work. The court concluded that a permissible inference instruction was appropriate:

[B]ased on the record in this case, this court makes the preliminary findings necessary to submit the spoliation evidence and an adverse inference instruction to the jury. But the record also presents conflicting evidence about the reasons the defendants deleted the emails and attachments; evidence that some of the deleted emails and attachments were favorable to the defendants; and an extensive amount of other evidence for the plaintiff to use. As a result, the jury will not be instructed that the defendants engaged in intentional misconduct. Instead, the instruction will ask the jury to decide whether the defendants intentionally deleted emails and attachments to prevent their use in litigation. If the jury finds such misconduct, the jury must then decide, considering all the evidence, whether to infer that the lost information would have been unfavorable to the defendants. Rather than instruct the jury on the rebuttable presumption steps, it is sufficient to present the ultimate issue: whether, if the jury has found bad-faith destruction, the jury will then decide to draw the inference that the lost information would have been unfavorable to the defendants.

Domanus, 2012 WL 2072866 at *12.

Based on this analysis, the Court in Domanus held, “after carefully analyzing the facts on the current record and reviewing remedies used by other courts under similar circumstances, the Court finds that the appropriate sanction is a “spoliation charge.” It allows the jury—after hearing testimony and receiving evidence—to evaluate the Defendants’ credibility and determine whether the destruction of the Hard Drive warrants an adverse inference.” Id. at *13.

Posted in Uncategorized

Post-Rimkus Duty of Preservation and Spoliation of Evidence Decisions (Part VI)

We are blogging on “Non-competes, Trade Secrets, Fiduciary Duties, and the Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine.” Mark Oberti has prepared a detailed paper on all of these issues, which can be found here.

The following post discusses how other courts view Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc. v. Cammarata, 688 F. Supp. 2d 598, 612–13 (S.D. Tex. 2010).

In 2012, the series of spoliation cases continued to grow when another Arizona court relied on Rimkus, as well as Suroweic, when considering a plaintiffs’ motion for entry of partial final judgment on liability as sanctions for spoliation of evidence. Aviva USA Corp. v. Vazirani, No. CV 11-0369-PHX-JAT, 2012 WL 71020 (D. Ariz. Jan. 10, 2012). The court in Aviva considered the spoliation factors and whether sanctions would be appropriate. Plaintiffs had complained of numerous emails, texts, and other electronic evidence that Plaintiffs failed to preserve and produce equated to spoliation of evidence that merited partial final judgment as a sanction. Defendants argued that no evidence relevant to the case had been destroyed, that anything relevant had already been produced, and that any alleged spoliation would not hinder the Plaintiffs’ ability to prosecute their case. The Court first stated the spoliation factors, “(1) the party having control over the evidence had an obligation to preserve it when it was destroyed or altered; (2) the destruction or loss was accompanied by a ‘culpable state of mind;’ and (3) the evidence that was destroyed or altered was ‘relevant’ to the claims or defenses of the party that sought the discovery of the spoliated evidence[.]” Aviva, 2012 WL 71020, at *5 (citing Suroweic, 790 F. Supp. 2d at 1005) (internal citations omitted). After considering the evidence and examining each of these factors, the court turned to a five-part test to determine whether a sanction determining liability in favor of one party was just. Those elements are: “(1) the public’s interest in expeditious resolution of litigation; (2) the court’s need to manage its docket; (3) the risk of prejudice to the other party; (4) the public policy favoring the disposition of cases on their merits; and (5) the availability of less drastic sanctions.” Id. at *7 (internal citations omitted). The court then looked to Rimkus and Suroweic for guidance on the appropriate sanctions:

The first two factors favor judgment for Plaintiffs on liability. Because the Court and the public have a strong interest in judicial efficiency and the prompt resolution of litigation, Defendants’ failure to preserve evidence, and the resulting delay caused by discovery disputes and the instant motion for sanctions, weigh in favor of judgment for Plaintiffs on liability. See Surowiec, 790 F. Supp. 2d at 1009. Nonetheless, the Court finds that the final three factors weigh against a liability-determining sanction. The third factor, prejudice, “looks to whether the spoliating party’s actions impaired the non-spoliating party’s ability to go to trial or threatened to interfere with the rightful decision of the case.” Leon, 464 F.3d at 959 (citation and brackets omitted). While it is apparent that Plaintiffs have been prejudiced by the spoliation, the Court finds that a lesser sanction would correct any interference with a rightful decision of the case attributed to the spoliation. See id. (quoting Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc. v. Cammarata, 688 F. Supp. 2d 598, 618 (S.D. Tex. 2010)) (“When a party is prejudiced, but not irreparably, from the loss of evidence that was destroyed with a high degree of culpability, a harsh, but less extreme sanction than dismissal or default is to permit the fact finder to presume that the destroyed evidence was prejudicial.”). Accordingly, the Court finds that a sanction granting judgment for Plaintiffs on liability would be inappropriate in this case.

Aviva, 2012 WL 71020, at *7.

The Court went on to explain that while a judgment was inappropriate, an adverse inference instruction to the jury would be warranted “to the extent Defendants’ spoliation affects Plaintiffs’ ability to prove their claims.” Id. at *8.

Posted in Discovery, Houston Employment Law, Houston Executive Lawyer, Non Compete Agreements, Trade Secrets

Post-Rimkus Duty of Preservation and Spoliation of Evidence Decisions (Part V)

We are blogging on “Non-competes, Trade Secrets, Fiduciary Duties, and the Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine.” Mark Oberti has prepared a detailed paper on all of these issues, which can be found here.

The following post discusses how other courts view Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc. v. Cammarata, 688 F. Supp. 2d 598, 612–13 (S.D. Tex. 2010).

In Gaalla v. Citizens Medical Center, Civil Action No. V-10-14, 2011 WL 2115670 (S.D. Tex. May 27, 2011), plaintiffs moved for sanctions, alleging defendants engaged in spoliation of evidence. The facts involved defendants’ emails stored on backup tapes. The emails on these backup tapes continued to be deleted regularly even after plaintiffs filed their lawsuit. Defendants denied any breach of duty, as they had issued a litigation hold letter and made timely records, in the form of snapshots, of some, but not all, items in relevant email accounts after suit was filed. Plaintiffs contended that, even if deletion of the backup tapes was not a violation of the duty to preserve, failure to make timely record of all items in relevant email accounts constituted spoliation and warranted severe sanctions.

Focusing on the Rimkus spoliation elements of the duty to preserve and culpable breach thereof, the court found no spoliation here. The court held that defendants did not have a duty to preserve back up tapes, as courts generally hold that litigation holds do not apply to backup tapes, stored and kept for the sole purpose of disaster recovery. Furthermore, even assuming, arguendo, defendants did have a duty to preserve such tapes, without a showing of bad faith, sanctions are not warranted. The court looked to Rimkus for the proposition that a court should focus on whether a party’s conduct throughout discovery was reasonable. In the instant case, the court found that defendants’ issuing a litigation hold letter and taking some snapshots constituted reasonable discovery conduct, and therefore was not spoliation of evidence and did not warrant imposition of sanctions.

Posted in Discovery, Houston Employment Law, Houston Executive Lawyer, Non Compete Agreements, Trade Secrets