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A disgruntled employee who left our company a few weeks ago linked an external file that edits the DOM of our website for people who are not logged in and not on our IP Address (which prevented us from detecting it for some time).

This makes a dialogue window open that says

[Our Company Name] recommends the app [Ex-employee's personal app], check it out on the app store now.

And then a button that takes people to the app store or one that cancels the popup.

What torts and crimes has this person committed?

  • I don't see how this is illegal and/or what you'd sue him for. The guy sounds like a bad guy, but he did not access the code illegally neither did he publish that code illegally. In essence he added code that was not supposed to go into the website. Nothing more nothing less. – CerebralX Jul 26 '17 at 12:26
  • This can not be the only thing. He is potentially taking people away from our site and getting rewarded from advertising in his app. Is this not economic loss? taking people away from our business to profit in his own? – JamesG Jul 26 '17 at 12:29
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    Was the code added (a) by the employee, and (b) during his work tenure? – Dave Newton Jul 26 '17 at 12:41
  • Considering that he put this code in there on behalf of the company I don't see it as illegal. – CerebralX Jul 26 '17 at 12:43
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    @JamesG You said that he did it on company time that means it was on the behalf. If the company did not like what he did, they can terminate him, which the company apparently did. Nothing more. – CerebralX Jul 26 '17 at 13:08
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This would at a minimum constitute intentional interference with contract and a breach of the employee's duty of loyalty to the company while employed giving rise potential to money damages (proving damages could be difficult) and possibly also disgorgement of profits he made during that time period and forfeiture of his salary during the time period after he did that.

It might also constitute the somewhat obscure tort of "injurious falsehood", which is a fraud relied upon by someone that is intended to and does hurt a third party.

It would also probably constitute some form of computer crime, although I'd need to do more research to cite chapter and verse.

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I assume that he did this while employed, and at a time when he was authorized to modify your website (for example when this was actually his job). There have been cases where companies tried to use anti-hacking laws in cases like this, but this seems to not work anymore. There was the case of a woman whose job it was to take money for lottery tickets and print them out using a computer; she used the computer to print about 1,000 tickets a week for herself! This turned out to be theft, but not unauthorized use of a computer, because she was actually authorized. Same in your case.

You can sue for damages - damage that he actually caused to your company, possible profits that he made through his actions, possibly salary that he was paid while working for himself, not the company. This may all be quite difficult. Can you prove any financial damage? Or damage of your reputation? Sending people to his app in the app store likely doesn't damage your reputation. And he might have done all the work after office hours so he never got paid for it.

PS. Someone posted this as an answer: "At Wallin & Klarich, we have over 30 years of experience in criminal defense and family law matters. Our criminal defense attorneys and family law lawyers are committed to providing our clients with the highest quality legal representation." Which clearly raises the question, if an employee or ex-employee damages the reputation of a law firm by spamming on law.stackexchange, what legal consequences could that employee face?

protected by Community Jul 28 '17 at 13:58

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