Some employers think they own you when all they're doing is renting your time. It cost 1 company $17.5 million to learn that stealing an employee's hard drive is really, really stupid.
It's about time.
Wha' happened? An RV sales manager was hired by an RV manufacturer Forest River, told he was going to get a big raise "later," and when he realized "later" meant "never" started looking for a new job.
The cheapskate company didn't even provide a notebook, so the guy used his own to build an 11 state sales network, as well as software for tracking sales. When the company Prez got wind that the guy was looking - and before firing him - the Prez stole his notebook, took the hard drive and erased all the files.
The Prez thought the sales manager was going to steal company secrets and figured that was all the justification he needed. He figured wrong.
In the meantime the RV builder got bought by the v deep-pocketed Berkshire Hathaway holding company for legendary investor Warren Buffet.
Wha' happened then? The sales manager was a believable witness - despite popular prejudice, most good salesmen are believable - and the jury awarded him his lost sales commissions, $7 million in punitive damages against the RV company and $8 million in punitive damages against the RV company president and founder.
The Storage Bits take Most companies aren't as stupid and cheap as Forest River was. They'll buy the notebook you use and have you sign a non-disclosure agreement.
When you use a company computer you have NO privacy and NO right to the personal data you store on it. Whether you think your job is secure or not, back up your personal data including pictures, contacts and emails.
Comments welcome, of course. Learn more about this case and employee rights generally at Ellen Simon's Employee Rights Post blog.