Let’s say a key IT employee one day says, “I quit!” and refuses to give up computer passwords that no one else in the company has. What then? That question just got decided in a recent court case.
In the case, Ardis Health, LLC v. Nankivell, not until after the employee left the company did someone realize that the departed worker was the only one with knowledge of passwords needed to access various types of electronic information, including company websites and social-media pages used for marketing.
The company quickly demanded that the ex-employee surrender the passwords. The ex-employee — who apparently left the company under less-than-ideal circumstances — refused. The two sides marched into court to settle the issue.
A judge ruled in favor of the employer; the ex-employed was ordered by the court to hand over the passwords.
That’s a relief to all types of companies, since nearly all have some sort of confidential electronic info that’s often protected by passwords. Still, it points out another problem that managers should be aware of: Make sure the passwords are in the possession of at least one backup employee, in case the primary holder leaves or is unavailable.
Doing so would have saved this company from having to fight an expensive court battle — and experiencing denied access to information while waging the legal fight.