Category Archives: Technology & Employment Issues

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Former Employee Sentenced to Prison for Trade Secret Misappropriation and Computer Fraud Related Misconduct

One of the more noteworthy employer/employee trade-secret misappropriation and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act  (CFAA) cases came to an end earlier this week. Specifically, Mr. David Nosal wa sentenced on January 8, 2014 to one year and one day in prison. He was convicted for misappropriating his former employer’s trade secrets and improperly accessing the … Continue Reading

Employee Owned Tablets and Technology Devices: Managing the Risks and Rewards Starts with BYOD Policy

With Christmas quickly approaching, employers should expect that their employees will be enjoying new technology devices entering the new year. And this means employers should expect new employment law compliance issues and technology risks for their companies.  Bring Your Own Devices and Employment Law Compliance Issues Employee owned devices create a minefield for employers when … Continue Reading

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Does not Protect Against Employee Violations of Company Computer Use Policies

Previously this blog outlined the various approaches Courts have taken to applying the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), 18 U.S.C. 1030, to workplace misuse of employer provided computer resources. A recent opinion from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, seriously limits the applicability of the CFAA to the employer/employee relationship and challenges other courts … Continue Reading

Email Disclaimers May Protect Employers Against Inadvertent Contracts

Even now email continues to have an “informal” character, business transactions occurring over email thread may, in certain circumstances, create a binding contract.  With this in mind, companies can avoid significant expense in relation to unintended contract obligations and litigation by simply addressing how their employees – especially those in sales or purchasing – conduct … Continue Reading

New Weapon for Michigan Employers for Protecting Against Unfair Competition and Trade Secret Theft

Michigan Companies were recently given a new tool for fighting back against trade secret misappropriation and unfair competition. Specifically, in Actuator Specialties, Inc. v. Chinavare the Michigan Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court’s determination that Actuator Specialties established a threat of misappropriation against its former employee and his new employer. This threat entitled it … Continue Reading

Tis the Season to Tech the Workplace Halls – Managing Employee Owned Technology Devices

Nothing captures the meaning of the Holidays (it is surprising how many winter festivals/holidays one could choose from or – cynically speaking – could use to develop a religious discrimination claim) than the giving and receiving of gifts, especially tech gadgets. And this invariably means employers will ring in the new year with an influx of new … Continue Reading

Criminal Indictment for Failing to Report Child Pornography

I previously discussed an employer’s obligation for reporting child pornography found on company IT resources. See What Should an Employer Do if Child Pornography is Discovered in the Workplace. One of the recommendations made in that post was to report child pornography to law enforcement, “no exceptions.” The importance for following this recommendation was recently highlighted … Continue Reading

Employees: The Weakest Link in the Company Data Security Defense

Last week I had the opportunity to present at the 2011 Thomas M. Cooley Law Review Symposium’s  Who’s Mining Your Business: Privacy Infringement and Profits. The Law Review members, spearheaded by Dayana Echeverry, put together a phenomenal program. It was a great opportunity to share the stage with an incredible panel of Internet privacy and data … Continue Reading

What’s the Harm in a Little Workplace Porn? For Starters, Unemployment Benefits.

A recent denial of unemployment benefits in Berglund v Industrial Technology Institute (7/21/2011) offers important insight for both employers and employees when it comes to accessing Internet pornography in the workplace and technology use policies.    Overview of Michigan Unemployment Benefits Under Michigan law, an employee is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits if he or she is … Continue Reading

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: A Criminal Statute That Extends to the Employment Relationship?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, As Criminal Laws Proliferate, More Ensnared (Gary Fields and John Emshwiller), details the increasing number of federal criminal statutes and federal prosecutions – a threefold increase over the last 30 years. The article attributes – in part – this upward spiral to the criminalization of issues generally … Continue Reading

Former Employee Gets a Free Pass for Deleting Evidence in Employment Dispute

A recent employment termination turned litigation offers important lessons for employers and employees when it comes to preserving computer information maintained on company issued laptops and related equipment. In Larkin v. Trinity Lighting, Inc. (PDF) (S.D. Miss. Apr. 20, 2011), Larkin was employed by Trinity as a salesperson and provided a company laptop, desktop computer, and … Continue Reading

Targeting “Excessive” Social Media Use as Violation of Computer Fraud & Abuse Act Misses the Mark

A Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Claim (CFAA) against a former employee based on “excessive Internet usage,” including visiting Facebook was recently dismissed by a Federal District Court in Florida.  Specifically, in Lee v. PMSI, Inc., the former employer claimed Wendi Lee, engaged in “excessive Internet usage” and visited “personal websites such as Facebook” and sent and … Continue Reading

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Continues to be Potent Weapon Against Disgruntled and Departing Employees

A recent opinion from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (PDF) confirms that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (essentially a federal computer hacking statute) continues to be a significant resource for employers to protect against the loss and damage of mission critical information due to departing or rogue employees. To add the Computer Fraud and … Continue Reading
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