While the idiom “wipe the slate clean” is popular at the beginning of a new year, it constituted a legal breach of employment agreements when the former employee installed Eraser 6, a data-wiping software, on his computer.
In this federal court case, there was a written agreement which provided that within twenty-four (24) hours of termination, the employee promised to return any company-provided equipment. In addition, the parties entered into an “Employee Confidentiality and Non-Competition Agreement” which provided that, upon his termination, the employee would return all company property and all documents, computer disks, and other electronic storage media containing or embodying any confidential Information. The agreement also stated that, because compliance with this provision might require data to be removed from the employee’s personal or home computer equipment, the company was granted access to such equipment for that purpose.
Mere hours before he turned over his computer for imaging, the employee installed Eraser 6, a data-wiping software, on his computer. Eraser 6 makes it impossible to determine what files have been on a computer and what the file’s contents had been.
The federal court found that the company produced sufficient evidence to establish that the former employee, in his admitted use of Eraser 6, evaded the spirit of the employment agreements, denied the company the expected benefit of the clauses requiring him to return company property, and resulted in no functional return of what was expected to be protected.
Thus, the court granted summary judgment that such conduct breached the “Employee Confidentiality and Non-Competition Agreement.”