Most companies make new employees well aware that everything they create during working hours is no longer their intellectual property but belongs to the organization they work for. That doesn’t take the sting out of relinquishing rights to anything you’ve spent time on when you leave your job as a terminated employee has learned the hard way.
In a Reddit post titled I just deleted thousands of hours from my old job, later shared on a TikTok account called @reddit_replay, a man described what happened when he realized his former employer was still using the work he had created, despite telling him he wasn’t competent enough for the job.
The employee worked as a videographer, creating content for social media. Despite him putting together up to 50 videos a day, the man claimed he was paid just above minimum wage.
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I was freelancing and had a loose contract. I was in desperate need of money, he explained as she justified why he would put so much effort into it for such a small reward.
The workload was insane, according to him, but he managed to keep up with the company’s demands for six months. In addition to the low pay and overwhelming work requirements, the freelancer described the office environment as bitter and dismissive, and even accused management of making trouble among workers for their own amusement.
As the six-month milestone approached, the contractor compiled the results of the video work he had done, including a graph that measured click-through sales resulting from the content he had created. He asked for a pay raise to compensate for the traffic he had delivered and the hard work he had put in relentlessly.
The man even compared his salary to industry standards to prove he was underpaid in hopes that managers would understand and correct his pay. He said that although he could earn more elsewhere, he would like to continue working for the company in the same capacity.
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Surprisingly, within hours of making his pitch, the company fired him, saying he wasn’t pulling his weight.
Although he claims to have provided clear data linking his social media campaigns to increased sales, the worker was told his content hadn’t had the expected impact, so it was no longer needed by the company. Naturally, the man was beside himself with rage. To make matters worse, he struggled for months to find work.
Three years after being sidelined by a company he gave everything to, the former employee was browsing his personal Google Drive and came across a folder he had created and shared with the company during his tenure. He found that 18 staff members were still actively using his templates, adjustments and presets to produce content for their social media accounts.
He couldn’t believe that the company that fired him had the audacity to continue using the cloud service he was paying for. Then, he saved all his files to a local drive of his computer and deleted the online folder, leaving no video resources for his former employer him, including projects already in progress.
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Revenge may be sweet, but deleting company files can land you in court if you’re not careful.
An invention agreement releases all of your rights to the things you created while working. This means that you cannot intentionally destroy proprietary files and data when you leave. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act gives employers a recourse when they lose information due to malicious actions. The resentful worker would be subject to civil and criminal liability for his actions.
On the other hand, it is totally irresponsible for a business to continue to use cloud storage that it does not own to maintain all work-related documentation. The former employee was under no obligation to pay and keep company records once he was fired. A thorough offboarding process would help transition the employee in an organized manner, reclaiming organization-specific information.
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NyRee Ausler is a writer and author from Seattle. He covers workplace navigation issues using experience gained over two decades working in Human Resources and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
This article originally appeared on YourTango
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