international employment law firm alliance L&E Global

China: Employee Was Held Liable to Compensate his Employer for Deletion of Computer Documents Upon Termination

The Employee worked as a business assistant and decided to exit from his Employer based on payment of compensation. The Employee completed certain exit procedures required by the Employer without informing the Employer the password to his work computer. Due to existence of dispute on the amount of compensation, the Employee ignored Employer’s requests for withdrawal of password to his work computer and deleted documents stored on the work computer. The Employer engaged a third professional party and paid a certain amount of service fee to unlock the Employee’s work computer and complete data recovery. The Employer then filed a lawsuit against the Employee for recovery of the said service fee. Through the litigation process, the Court ruled in favor of the Employer. The Court came to this decision based on the followings: (a) the Employer has used reasonable efforts to invite Employee’s cooperation on disclosure of password to work computer; (b) it is a basic obligation for employees to preserve the integrity of employers’ properties, data and documents and (c) employees’ obligation to preserve Employer’s integrity of work related data or documents lies in the general principle of good faith.