Are you an attorney? How familiar are you with what a trade secret is and isn't? Here's what one law firm has to say on the subject: " The Legislature did so by specifically including, "customer lists" and "business records" as examples of potential trade secrets protected" Stealing Customer Lists, a Criminal Issue? - Crowe & Dunlevy Employee or not, the notion that a person can walk into a business they've been working with/for as an agent, grab the paintings on the wall, the fax machine, and the coffee maker, then walk out with the argument "I had no contractual argument to not take them" is almost as legally farcical as the notion that you can just take a companies customer list. As an employee or an independent contractor, legally it makes no difference; the burden would be on here to prove that it was hers free and clear. To go back to the office example, if she can prove it was her coffee maker and she was simply taking what was already hers, fair enough. As she explained it she isn't the agent of record on it, the agency is. That's the beginning and end of that; even a bad attorney could argue that successfully.