Thursday, August 19, 2010

Evidence of moonlighting and misuse of email system prove fatal to retaliation claim

Rudolph Escher claimed that he was terminated in retaliation for complaints he made about his employer’s designation and accounting of his military leave time, in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. As it turned out, his employer fired him for egregious misuse of its computer system through the use of that system to perform substantial work for the Naval Reserves:

Samuel Long, a human resources specialist, reviewed the e-mails and documents Escher had stored on the server. Long initially discovered more than 3,200 e-mails, from 1999-2005, in more than 240 individually named folders and subfolders. He also discovered files outside the e-mail system containing: 18 PowerPoint Presentations; 75 Word documents; 38 Excel spreadsheets; 12 PDF documents; and 140 miscellaneous documents. Long determined that Escher was working on these e-mails during work hours, and using his BWXT e-mail address as an automatic signature, which invited recipients to respond to it. Long could tell from his review that Escher was spending “an inordinate amount of time by reviewing the e-mails, by replying to the e-mails, by writing paragraph after paragraph in response to different e-mails.”

If you are going to moonlight, best not to do business through your main employer’s computer system. Needless to say, the 6th Circuit upheld the trial court’s dismissal of Escher’s USERRA lawsuit. The case is Escher v. BWXT Y-12, LLC (6th Cir. 8/18/10) [pdf].

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