Former Employee Deletes His Files After He Got Fired And Finds Company Still Use His Work
In a recent viral Reddit post titled "I just deleted thousands of hours of work from my old job," a former employee shared his shocking discovery and subsequent actions after realizing that his former employer continued to use the work he had created, despite deeming him "incompetent" for the position.
The Reddit post about how the former employee deletes his files after he got fired and finds company still use his work, later shared on a popular TikTok account called "@reddit_replay," sheds light on the frustration and revenge that ensued.
The employee in question worked as a videographer, diligently creating content for the company's social media platforms. Despite investing significant time and effort into producing up to 50 videos daily, he claimed to receive meager compensation just above the minimum wage. Desperation for income and a loose contractual agreement compelled him to persist under such unfavorable conditions.
The workload imposed upon the employee was described as "insane," pushing him to his limits. Moreover, he endured a toxic office environment characterized by bitterness and snide behavior. Disturbingly, he accused the management of deliberately instigating conflicts among employees for their own amusement, further exacerbating his dissatisfaction with the job.
Approaching the six-month mark, the employee compiled his extensive body of work, including a comprehensive graph showcasing the substantial increase in click-through sales attributable to his content. Determined to be fairly compensated for his contributions, he requested a pay raise, substantiating his plea by highlighting the industry standards and expressing his willingness to continue working for the company.
Shockingly, instead of recognizing his value and addressing his concerns, the company responded with an abrupt termination.
Within hours of presenting his proposal, the employee was dismissed on the grounds of "not pulling his weight," disregarding the tangible impact of his content on the company's success. This unexpected betrayal intensified his feelings of anger and resentment.
After three years of enduring the aftermath of his unjust termination, the ex-employee stumbled upon a folder he had created and shared with the company while perusing his personal Google Drive. To his astonishment, he discovered that 18 staff members were actively utilizing his templates, adjustments, and presets to produce content for the company's social media accounts.
Infuriated by the audacity of the company that fired him, who continued to exploit his work by utilizing the cloud service that he was personally paying for, he decided to take matters into his own hands. In an act of revenge, he meticulously saved all of his files to a local drive on his computer and permanently deleted the online folder, leaving his former employer without access to any video assets, including ongoing projects.
While revenge may provide momentary satisfaction, the ex-employee's actions carry significant legal implications. It is crucial to note that intentionally deleting company files can lead to legal repercussions, as an inventions agreement typically releases the rights to work created during employment. Violating this agreement may result in civil and criminal liability under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
However, it is equally important to acknowledge the employer's responsibility in this situation. Continuing to use cloud storage, which the company has no ownership or control over, to retain work-related documentation reflects an irresponsible approach.
The ex-employee had no obligation to bear the costs and maintenance of company records after his termination. A comprehensive offboarding process would have facilitated an organized transition, ensuring the return of organization-specific information.
The tale of the former employee's revenge serves as a cautionary reminder to both employees and employers. Fair treatment, transparency, and open communication are essential in fostering a positive work environment and avoiding retaliatory actions.
Employees must be aware of their legal obligations, and employers should implement thorough offboarding procedures to protect their proprietary information while respecting the rights of their former employees.
In today's competitive business landscape, companies invest in employees to drive innovation, develop new products, and expand their market presence. This investment raises important questions about the ownership of intellectual property (IP) created by employees during their employment.
While employers generally expect to own IP resulting from an employee's work, it is crucial to understand the complexities involved in determining ownership rights. Let's get to know the challenges faced by both employees and employers regarding IP ownership and provides guidance on navigating these issues effectively.
Intellectual Property: what is it, and who owns it? A guide for employers and employees.
It is a common misconception that any IP created during the course of employment automatically belongs to the employer. However, the reality is more nuanced. Unless specified otherwise, IP created by an employee outside the scope of their employment is owned by the employee, not the employer.
To avoid costly disputes and protect their interests, employers must establish clear ownership through written agreements with their employees.
An "assignment of inventions" or "ownership of discoveries" agreement is vital for securing the employer's ownership of IP created by employees during their employment.
Such an agreement should be executed before or at the start of the employment relationship. It should explicitly assign all rights and ownership of IP to the company. Without this agreement, an employee may retain ownership rights to the IP they create, even if their role is specifically focused on inventing or developing new products.
To ensure the validity of the agreement, employers should provide sufficient consideration in exchange for the employee's execution of the document. Consideration refers to something of value given in return for the agreement.
If the agreement is signed before employment begins, the offer of employment itself is typically considered sufficient consideration. However, if the agreement is entered into after employment has commenced, additional consideration must be provided to support its enforceability. This can take the form of promotions, bonuses, or other tangible benefits.
Moreover, employers should be proactive in obtaining a comprehensive list of any pre-existing IP owned by the employee. By including an addendum in the agreement, employees can disclose and clarify their ownership claims to avoid potential conflicts in the future. Regular updates on the employee's owned IP, if any, should also be encouraged throughout the employment relationship.
Employers should ensure that the written agreement adheres to applicable state laws. Some states have specific requirements for such agreements. For example, certain states mandate the inclusion of clear language that exempts IP created by the employee outside of working hours and without using company resources from being assigned to the employer.
By addressing these requirements, employers can mitigate potential disputes over ownership in the future.
Additionally, some employers may choose to implement policies requiring employees to continually disclose any IP created independently of their employment. This practice helps maintain transparency and reduces ambiguity regarding ownership claims.
Including provisions in the agreement that address the misappropriation or infringement of the company's IP is crucial. The agreement should outline remedies and relief options available to the employer in case of a breach.
This may include seeking injunctive relief, recovering attorney's fees, and covering associated costs. By clearly defining the consequences of IP misappropriation or infringement, employers can deter employees from engaging in self-interested actions that may harm the company.
Similar considerations apply when working with independent contractors. Employers should include "assignment of inventions" or "ownership of discoveries" provisions in their agreements with contractors.
These provisions explicitly state that all IP created by the contractor during the engagement will be owned exclusively by the company. By securing these rights upfront, employers can avoid ownership disputes and protect their IP assets.
- Review existing agreements with employees and independent contractors. Ensure they include clear provisions for IP ownership.
- Confirm that the agreements are supported by sufficient consideration, whether provided before or after employment.
- Encourage employees to disclose any pre-existing IP they own and update the employer on new developments during their employment.
- Conduct exit interviews with employees and contractors, reiterating their contractual obligations regarding IP ownership.
It is crucial for employees to understand the terms and implications of their employment agreements, particularly regarding IP ownership. Key considerations include:
- Thoroughly review employment agreements before signing. Seek legal advice if uncertain about the rights retained.
- Ensure the consideration provided in exchange for signing the agreement is fair and adequate.
- Maintain proper documentation, clearly indicating the creation of ideas during personal time, using personal funds and equipment.
- Evaluate the enforceability and reasonableness of non-compete agreements, seeking legal counsel if necessary.
- Understand the distinction between employee and independent contractor status, as it affects ownership rights.
What Intellectual Property Does an Employee Own | QOTD
Balancing employment and IP rights requires clear communication and well-drafted agreements. Employers must establish ownership through written agreements executed before or at the start of employment.
These agreements should be supported by sufficient consideration and comply with state laws. Regular communication and updates between employers and employees regarding IP ownership can prevent future disputes.
Employees should carefully review their agreements and understand their rights and obligations. By proactively addressing IP ownership, both employers and employees can protect their interests and contribute to a collaborative and innovative work environment.
To establish ownership of intellectual property, the initial course of action involves examining the employment or independent contractor agreement (or company policy) to ascertain the employer's stance on IP ownership. In the absence of a specific agreement, the employer may still hold rights to the invention or creation.
Some examples of intellectual property ownership are:
- Domain names
- Industrial design
- Confidential information
- Moral rights
- Database rights
- Works of authorship
Managing intellectual property rights involves the following steps:
- Formulate an IP strategy.
- Implement a decision-making process aligned with the strategy.
- Establish frameworks and policies to guide IP management.
- Administer and engage in negotiations related to IP.
- Gain a comprehensive understanding of IP rights and infringements.
- Utilize methods for valuing IP assets.
- Consider intellectual property infringement coverage.
In conclusion, the case where the former employee deletes his files after he got fired and finds company still use his work serves as a powerful reminder of the complexities surrounding intellectual property ownership in employment.
This incident highlights the importance of clear agreements, executed prior to or at the start of employment, to establish ownership rights and avoid disputes. Employers must recognize that assuming automatic ownership of all intellectual property created during an employee's tenure can have costly consequences, both in monetary terms and the loss of valuable inventions or improvements.
Conversely, employees should be aware of their rights and carefully review their agreements to ensure fair treatment and protect their creative endeavors. By fostering transparent communication and implementing well-crafted agreements, employers and employees can navigate the intricate landscape of intellectual property ownership, promoting a fair and mutually beneficial work environment.