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Cybersecurity risk discovered and reported by me. So company fired me! North Carolina

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  • Cybersecurity risk discovered and reported by me. So company fired me! North Carolina


    I am trying to find out if my termination was legal or illegal, and what is recommended as a next step. I really would like to work for the large company (see below). (My apologies if this contains too much technology info for some readers.)

    I was about to start a multi-year computer contracting job at a large company through a placement agency (being paid via W-2 by the agency) this month. I needed to fill out forms on the placement agency's website. Being worried about websites trying to store things on my computer I don't want, I have my web browser's security set higher to disallow things until I click a button to note I trust the website.

    When I went to the agency's website, I noticed that not only were forms displayed for where I was to work (the large company), but also for many other large corporations. I clicked the menu button to note the website was safe (added it to my "white list"), and links to forms for all the "other" companies disappeared after the screen reloaded. (The displaying of other clients' forms is the "cyber security" issue.)

    After I filled out all the forms requested, I sent an email to the placement agency that I was finished. In addition, I wrote something like "By the way, if someone has cookies and Javascript disabled, they can see the links/forms for all your clients. You may want to pass this information on to your tech department." (Note: I did this in good faith. I thought the placement agency's IT department would appreciate knowing they had a security problem.)

    The weekend before I was supposed to show up for work, I received a phone call from a placement agency account manager that they would not represent me (aka cancelled my contract, aka terminated me) and I was not to show up to work on Monday. No details were given. No email/letter was sent to me. And being a weekend, nobody in the agency was answering phones or email.

    That Monday I was finally contacted in the late morning and was told they considered it "a risk to put someone who disables javascript at a client site". And that was it.

    First, from a technology standpoint, it is ridiculous to call someone a risk if his/her browser has javascript disabled (This is a standard test you need to make in your code -- to make sure the website works properly on all browsers. Even my grandfather web-surfed with cookies and javascript disabled all the time).

    Two, their site has the preexisting security issue. I had nothing to do with the creation/cause of the issue.

    Third, I was acting in good faith, doing what I was told (in papers I signed, it said I was supposed to report security issues). Their IT department didn't even call me to ask how this happened. Additionally, (ironically) the EXACT problem I saw was described/taught to me the day before on the client's (the large company's) training website, that I was required to read before starting work there (and was supposed to take care not to put in my own code).

    So, was their cancellation of my signed contract legal in this situation? Was this a breach of contract? Was placement agency "retaliating"? What should I do next? FYI: I did leave a message at (big corporation), but they are not returning my calls.

    Thank you.
    Last edited by PineTree; 05-17-2016, 07:33 PM.

  • #2
    This was not an illegal term and it was not illegal retaliation.

    Whether it violates your contract (which is not the same thing as an illegal term) is something we cannot say for certain since we have not read it. But the odds are very much in favor of this being 100% legal straight down the line.

    I'm not saying it's fair. I'm not saying it's necessarily smart. I'm not saying they are doing the right thing. I am saying that unless there is something in a legally binding and enforceable contract (which odds are you do not have) which is expressly violated by this, it's legal.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


    • #3
      Agreed with cbg. Despite what you hear in the media, the actual reasons a termination can be illegal are few and far between. In most cases, the employer can fire you for any reason they like or no reason at all. As cbg said, we are not saying we agree with how they handled matters. We are saying you have no case to sue.

      You should still apply for unemployment-and appeal if they deny. Qualifying for unemployment is a different (and much lower) bar than suing on the basis of wrongful termination.


      • #4
        To cbg and ferretrick,

        Thank you both for your prompt and professional replies.

        A good friend said this to me this morning: "You essentially did the right thing, but the right thing turns out to be the wrong thing sometimes, unfortunately. Totally dumb world we live in. Find a company who wants you for who you really are, which is ultimately more important than anything."