caught with my pants down

16 replies
My worst case senerio is being realized. I have been working with an employee for last year and a half on developing our website and learning seo. I am realizing that they are taking this information that they learned from me and not only marketing to other businesses but they are now trying to extort money from me to maintain or continue this relationship. I am looking for a way to cover my butt now and in the future. How do you grant someone access to website and not put yourself at risk for them to vandalize it.
What are some suggestions for protecting both interests? Has anyone else had this problem? What was your solution? Is there a cyber non compete agreement?
I am concerned that if I don't yield to there demands I will have wasted a year and a half of marketing success. Are there any solutions I can effect immediately?
Please PM me asap I'll forward my contact information to you!
#caught #pants
  • Profile picture of the author ExRat
    Hi JJanson,

    I have been working with an employee
    If they are your employee, then presumeably they have a contract with you?

    Either way, you need to speak to someone from the legal profession.

    they are now trying to extort money from me
    In my country, that's a crime.

    You need a lawyer.

    I am looking for a way to cover my butt now and in the future
    Sorry to be repetitive, but...in that case you need a lawyer. Advice here will not help you at all and may cause you loss.
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  • Profile picture of the author Eddieheli
    You say its an employee, so what does your employment contract say.
    I used to own a software company and all of my employees had no compete clauses, and they were required to notify any external work.
    If your employee is threatening to do something to your site and blackmailing you, change all passwords etc immediately and sack them.

    I had to have a contractor escorted off the premises immediately once because he threatened to do something on the server if his contract wasn't extended.

    You can't stop someone learning from you and leaving your employment. Thats life. thats why people get paid more, the more experience they have got, because you are not having to spend so much time teaching them.
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    • Profile picture of the author JJanson
      It is an employee,however they were hired has general office help,answering phones,schedualing etc,nothing high tech or generally worthy of a non cometition agreement. This person displayed some proficancy with website design and social media so we worked together on SEO strategies and we have made my site a critical component to our buisness,50% of my leeds now come from my site due to OUR efforts.
      I am not denying that they were a critical component of our sucess,I am trying to find a way to lock them into our continued success, but also trying to limit my risk it he should go Renegade" on me.
      What do you feel is fair for both sides?
      Thanks again for any and all imput
      Jim
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      • Profile picture of the author txconx
        Originally Posted by JJanson View Post

        It is an employee,however they were hired has general office help,answering phones,schedualing etc,nothing high tech or generally worthy of a non cometition agreement. This person displayed some proficancy with website design and social media so we worked together on SEO strategies and we have made my site a critical component to our buisness,50% of my leeds now come from my site due to OUR efforts.
        I am not denying that they were a critical component of our sucess,I am trying to find a way to lock them into our continued success, but also trying to limit my risk it he should go Renegade" on me.
        What do you feel is fair for both sides?
        Thanks again for any and all imput
        Jim
        You're acting like this person is somehow unique.

        There are very few people who can't be replaced, usually with someone better.

        Get rid of him. Imagine how much you would've accomplished if you had just hired someone trained to do the job you wanted instead of teaching someone who showed proficiency how to do it. Then imagine how much more you can do and how much faster it will get done when you replace him with someone who doesn't require training.
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  • Profile picture of the author Don Schenk
    You don't say what country you are located in. Different counties, different states have different labor laws. You need to talk with a labor law attorney. Usually a short, few minute conversation will let you find out what your options are.

    I am not a lawyer (wouldn't want all the jokes being told about me) and can't give any real advice as to what your legal rights are.

    That said, 5 years ago an employee told me she saw something that made her suspect another employee was stealing from me. I started looking into it, and discovered she was correct! I then talked to a labor law attorney and learned that as a business owner, I really do have a lot of rights - more so than I ever thought.

    My wife subscribes to several law publications here in Ohio. (She is an attorney and does tell lawyer jokes.) She showed me an article 2 days ago about a local beauty salon that discovered a past employee had contacted a large number of their customers and lured them away from.

    The court placed a judgement against him from contacting these customers again. He ignored the request, found himself back in court, and received a judgement in which he now has to pay $139,000.00 to the salon.

    Was this person who was working with you truely an employee - where you take the tax deductions from his/her pay? Or was this person a self-employeed contractor? Was this person even in the same country as you?

    Again, you need to talk to a labor attorney.

    I certainly do hope you immediately changed the passwords and user ID both to your account with the hosting company and for your FTP access to you site - and have done so before this goofball has changed them so you can no longer get in.

    :-Don
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  • Profile picture of the author Don Schenk
    Originally Posted by JJanson View Post

    I am realizing that they are taking this information that they learned from me and not only marketing to other businesses but they are now trying to extort money from me to maintain or continue this relationship.
    J, you need this person OUT of your life, and out of your business right now - immediately.

    Over my 40+ years as a business owner I have at times kept employees who I shouldn't have kept. It always cost me money and aggravation. It took me a long for me to grow a strong spine. I had to learn to hire slowly and fire quickly.

    It is your business. You make the decisions. An employee is an extension of the business owner, and as such, it is the employee's job to enhance the business. It sounds like this employee did just that, and was paid to do just that.

    Never let an employee tell you what you must do, never let an employee threaten you, and never allow an employee to maneuver you.

    If the employee threatens to sabotage your business or threatens to leave if you don't pay more money - LOSE THAT EMPLOYEE.

    Yes, I am shouting because years ago I needed to have that shouted at me, but it wasn't. Learn by my mistakes so you don't make the same ones.

    :-Don
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    • Profile picture of the author Gary King
      Originally Posted by Don Schenk View Post

      J, you need this person OUT of your life, and out of your business right now - immediately.

      :-Don

      Jim,

      First, sorry to hear of your situation.

      Second, please listen to Don.

      Third, Don, love your post. However, you didn't add enough urgency. It should be more like:

      IMMEDIATELY!

      Think of it like an accident scene Jim - prevent any other injuries, stop the bleeding, patch up the other stuff later.

      If someone has access to your proprietary info, especially if they have already done something bad to it, you need to immediately remove that access. You never know what or when they may do something.

      Cut them off. Change all passwords.

      Make sure that they are NOT on your domain name registration or have any access to change it.

      Double check all billing info - you don't want them to revoke a credit card that paid for your stuff.

      Check bank accounts and remove access if applicable. Kill any corporate cards, etc.

      I don't know what all this person would have access to, but *think* about it and immediately take action.

      Follow-up with your lawyer instantly thereafter.

      All success,

      Gary
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  • Profile picture of the author BillLudwig
    I am a full time web developer working for a non-profit who also does a lot of freelance on the side. My employer knows all about my freelance work, and I actually receive referrals from my supervisor and co-workers. My employer pays me very well and I have awesome benefits ( over a month of vacation/year and great health ). Even with all of that there is no way I would work for anyone who would try and control what I do with my skills/abilities outside of the time they pay me for.

    Non-Compete clauses have been mentioned (doesn't sound like one is in place) but typically they only limit the employee from working with direct competitors, not from doing any outside work. Of course like any contract they are all different. I have worked under non-compete's when freelancing, and I charge a lot for the privilege.

    You haven't been clear enough on how they are using the information they learned from you. Are they using proprietary business information (client lists etc) or just general knowledge and skills? If it's proprietary fire them and look into legal action for damages, otherwise without a contract you can't control what people do with their skills, time, & knowledge outside of work.

    You also haven't said how they are trying to extort more money? Are they threatening to quit if they don't get paid for all the new and more technical job responsibilities or are they threatening to do something to harm the business? It sounds like they are most likely way underpaid since they were hired to do general office work and are now doing the job of someone who would make way more than that. In the second case do what was suggested above, change the passwords and fire them.
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  • Profile picture of the author reactorr
    sounds like the circle of trust is no more
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  • Profile picture of the author JJanson
    What is an example of a contract that could protect both sides? Is that not a non compete ? This whole industry is redefining the buisness world.It is not just taking names of clients.When I subscribe to a Guru du jour making money on the internet subscription service,and the person I share this information with decides to charge me for what I tought them.What kind of " contract " could protect the " owner " that paid for services rendered from not being help captive by the monster they created?
    All Gurus imput GREATLY appreciated.
    Jim
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    • Profile picture of the author reactorr
      I'm not sure you can stipulate that employees are not permitted to take acquired knowledge and use it.

      From what little I know of the situation, you need new people.
      And to change all passwords to avoid other issues.

      When you hire someone, there is a certain level of trust involved in order to grant access to things like confidential info, websites, etc.

      If, for whatever reason, that trust isn't there, it might be time for new hires.

      Sorry I don't have any quick solutions. Clearly this isn't someone you would want to maintain a business relationship with.
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      • Profile picture of the author JJanson
        Please do not look at this as me not wanting to accept great advice, I agree I need this person out of my life. Is this always going to be an issue for me (or any other) buisness owners in the future? How can I be proactive to not have this issue flare up in the future with a new person?
        Anyone out there interested in filling that persons spot? Can these services be rendered from a freelancer or do I need someone in house?
        Thanks again for all responses.
        Jim
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        • Profile picture of the author BillLudwig
          Coming from a freelancer and web developer point of view this seems like it may be an ongoing issue for you. It concerns me when I hear an employer that wants to control what an employee does when they are off the clock. I understand that you paid for the time and training but you also received the benefit of that time and training.

          Again I still don't have any idea what the other side of the story is, and there are a lot of details missing. So please don't take this as me saying the other person is innocent or that you are wrong. Odds are they thoroughly deserve to be fired, and should be. I know you have mentioned being blackmailed but without wild speculation I don't know what that means. I also don't know what the employee was doing or what their demands or threats were.

          So keeping in mind I don't know probably 90% of the story I'm going to sign out of this discussion. My final suggestion is to fire this employee. A good work environment requires trust and that clearly isn't there.

          Best of luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author Tsnyder
    JIM... LISTEN UP...

    Right now... immediately... Without delay... STOP asking for advice
    about this issue on an internet forum... STOP NOW.

    These are important legal issues... call your attorney tomorrow.

    We are a bunch of people who market stuff on the internet. What makes
    you think any of us are competent to advise you on serious legal issues?

    I don't care what experience someone may have had in the past with
    something similar... I know enough about law to know that every
    circumstance is different and the outcome will depend on details specific
    to your situation.

    CALL YOUR ATTORNEY TOMORROW.

    Tsnyder
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    If you knew what I know you'd be doing what I do...
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    • Profile picture of the author mcmahanusa
      If extortion is indeed involved, I envision two scenarios:

      Scenario A: Contact an attorney, have him legally destroy the guy.

      Scenario B: Step 1: Go to my ranch, use backhoe to excavate a hole, 4'x10'x10' Step 2: Bury the *#**##. Step 3: Fill hole Step 4: Look for new employee.

      Probably Scenario A would play out the best.
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  • Profile picture of the author JDArchitecture
    Originally Posted by JJanson View Post

    but they are now trying to extort money from me to maintain or continue this relationship.
    What does this mean?

    Excuse my skepticism, but I've known plenty of employers who think that asking for a raise is a form of extortion.

    You said that you initially hired this person for general office help. It sounds like they are now a more specialized, critical, and valuable part of your company and they should be compensated accordingly.

    Seems to me that you need to look inward for the reality of the situation.

    On the other hand, if they are actively threatening, that's a different story; however, I suspect that if this were truly the case, you would have fired them by now.

    If an employee grows in ability and responsibility -- even if it's due to your teaching & mentoring -- they deserve to be rewarded.

    Frankly, I sense that an attitude adjustment -- on your part -- is in order.
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