Yes it's obvious, but how many businesses routinely change passwords when employees are terminated. I'm my experience not all.
Ex-employee accused in suit of hijacking firm's email, website
Brett Rawdin's bosses said they fired him two weeks ago, taking away his $125,000 salary, his expense account and his car allowance -- everything but his access to the company website and email system.
They discovered that oversight, they said, a day after mailing his termination letter. That's when his former employer, TSC Construcsuittion Co., said it received an email confirming a change to the company password from GoDaddy.com, with whom it contracts for both website and email services.
Rawdin, who lives in Clarence, changed the password after he was fired without telling anyone, giving himself sole access to and control of the company's email system and website, according to a lawsuit the company filed this week in State Supreme Court.
The lawsuit also accuses Rawdin of falsely submitting claims for reimbursement of alleged business-related expenses totaling more than $100,000 and making deals without getting approval to do so that resulted in financial losses.
A spokesman for Rawdin, who did not want to be identified, said that Rawdin has not received any of the court papers. Any claims or allegations are false and will be defended completely, and counterclaims against the corporation and individuals will be made, the spokesman said. The allegations, the spokesman added, are an attempt to remove Rawdin from his position for the benefit of the other owners of the company. Rawdin has an unspecified share in TSC.
Rawdin is disappointed that this private matter is being publicized without any proof, the spokesman said.
Much of the lawsuit focuses on the website and email accounts under Rawdin's control.
Edward P. Ladd Jr., TSC's chief executive officer, said in an affidavit, "This presents a grave concern to TSC in that all incoming and outgoing communications with its clients are no longer secured, and TSC no longer has control over its Internet presence and communications."
Before his firing, Rawdin was one of two employees privy to the login and password, according to the lawsuit.
TSC said it was blocked when it tried to regain control of the website and email system. GoDaddy.com said the new password could not be reversed "because the changes were made by either an authorized user or person possessing the proper account login credentials," according to court papers.
TSC, a company with headquarters in Johnson City and an office in Buffalo, develops and builds projects such as cellular and microwave applications on towers for wireless data and communications providers.
Rawdin was an officer for TSC from June 2006 until Sept. 8, the lawsuit said. He served as a project manager, and his job duties included finding new customers.
The company said it informed Rawdin that it was immediately terminating his employment in a letter dated Sept. 8 and mailed to him Sept. 12. The company also sent him a copy of the termination letter via an email Sept. 13.
Samuel J. Savarino holds an ownership interest in TSC, and he acts as the managing member of the ownership group.
"The papers speak for themselves," Savarino said of the court filing. "It's a matter with a disgruntled former employee who forced us to take the action we took." He declined to comment further.
TSC contracted with GoDaddy.com in 2008 for both a Web domain and email account. Access was protected by a login and password. During Rawdin's employment, only he and Anna Monteiro, the company's comptroller, were privy to the login and password, the lawsuit said.
After receiving his termination letter, "Rawdin accessed TSC's email account and Web domain with GoDaddy and changed the password, thereby granting himself sole access and control," the lawsuit alleges.
Monteiro received an email from GoDaddy on Sept. 13 confirming the change.
"I immediately contacted GoDaddy to advise that the changes to the accounts were unauthorized and were made by a former employee," she said in an affidavit.
But GoDaddy refused to return control of the account to the company, she said.
Five days after his termination, Rawdin sent an email from his TSC account advising his contacts that his mobile phone was "down," and he provided a new phone number at which he could be reached, according to court papers.
TSC, in court papers, said Rawdin does not deny that he changed the password and now has control over the company's website and email account.
"Rawdin has failed and refused to relinquish control of TSC's email and Web domain with GoDaddy," the lawsuit alleged.
By retaining control, Rawdin has the ability to access, monitor and control all incoming and outgoing electronic communications with TSC, the lawsuit said. The lawsuit also accused him of sending emails to existing customers and business contacts of TSC "so as to improperly and falsely create the appearance that Rawdin remains an employee of TSC."
The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages of at least $500,000.
The company also wants the court to order Rawdin to stop using its website and email account, and to turn over the login and password information.