Stealing and mining and a € 30.000 reward 'The Powers of Nothing...'
Netherlands, March 2, 2018.
A Dutch company sued one of his IT system managers for theft and abuse of companies resources, immediate terminating the contract which resulted in a lawsuit of the employee against the employer. The judge overruled the termination and ordered the employer to pay a settlement of lost salary and transition fee of a total of about € 30.000.
An employee installed a bitcoin mining computer and connected it, without specific consent or knowledge of the employer, to the companies networks, conveniently hidden somewhere in the server farm. When the employer discovered the 'vile act', the system manager was instant terminated, who subsequently sued his 'former' employer. Here is how the presiding judge motivated his verdict where the employer lost the court case.
Theft of electricity
The judge waved the complaint since the employer didn't formally conducted an investigation to the act, so the judge argued that theft wasn't proven.
Abusing the wifi networks making these vulnerable for intrusion and hacking
The Judge argued that since the mining was done behind a solid functioning firewall, the risk on both are to be dismissed.
Misconduct, abusing companies properties
The judge stated that yes, abuse of company resources could apply, the employer was in error since it must be stated as fair that an employee is to act in trust and good conduct for the employer, using companies resources proper but .... installing an IT system specifically for mining bitcoins didn't apply here, since it hasn't been mentioned specifically in the contract between the two parties and installing IT systems is part of the contract covering duties of an employee. Also trying to apply a contract ruling covering working for 'third parties or others', what is considered a respectable contract standard, also isn't applicable. The system manager hasn't been working for a third party or 'others' but sole for himself. This ruling has shown to be a most fortunate spin off in favor of the employee.
The immediate resignation was unjust since normal contract termination would have been more fair, so the termination had to be returned and the employer was convicted to pay lost salary since the date of resignation as well as the transition fee for the employee and lost interests, all together the € 30.000.-
Lesson to learn
Beside the fact it to be expected that an employee is behaving in good standing and acting exclusively within the contract between her/him and employer, it seems only convenient that employers pay good attention here. In informal sense the employer was right to resign the employee however, they should have hired a good and solid lawyer to state the case and continue to pay the employees salary and demanded it back after trial.
For those employers reading this here the new contracts are to be added with this ill fact that.....
'... an employer is prohibited to carry out any (un)paid act and/or work for 'others' than exclusive the employer under ex court ruling of immediate termination of contract and working relation between the parties if an employer conducts act and/or work, paid or unpaid, for 'others', without the explicit knowledge and written consent of the employer...'
Surely it is to be expected that an employer and employee is to uphold an exclusive working relationship where an employee must be trusted initially not to conduct any activity other than (s)he is exclusively paid for. In this instance the employer had the shear fortune to have court ruling in his favor but at the same time, simple integrity demands that (s)he should have asked permission first for the use of company resources for personal gain rather than 'assuming' there was also the 'right' since the working contract covered the use of company resources.
Now we are curious. Is there a legal binding way to add last mentioned adding to present contracts or is a company ruling enough to cover this type of abuse of company resources?
Have a prosperous endeavor and journey, where ever it may lead you to ....