Q. Is there anything I can do to deter employees from stealing or damaging computers after a termination?
A. There is a lot you can do. First, if you don’t have a strongly worded electronic communication and technology policy, consider implementing one. Second, remind employees upon termination or resignation of their duty to return all data and equipment, including laptops.
Finally, there are remedies available to you if you choose to proceed to court. One is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a federal law that creates a private course of action for individuals or businesses damaged by computer fraud. More federal courts are allowing employers damaged by ex-employees who fail to return computers to proceed with claims under this statute. It is an important weapon for employers because it allows for the recovery of a variety of damages and costs, including forensic investigation fees incurred in examining the computer after its return.