Dinesh Divekar
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I am running a small software organization with 4-5 staff. I recently caught an employee who had sold a design created for one of our clients to someone else. When asked to explain his actions, the discussion got heated which ultimately led to him charging at me physically, for which a police complaint was registered and settlement reached at end of day wherein he agreed to resign and settle matters.

However, a week later he has sent a legal notice demanding 3 months salary, lawyers fee and a bonus for 30 months of work. His notice period is 1 month. I have not issued any termination letter so far and he has not been reporting to work since then. I am willing to negotiate and give him his rightful dues.

What are the options available with me? I do not wish to name myself or the concerned employee and keep things confidential as things may be sub-judice shortly.

Thanks in advance for your valuable tips and guidance.

From India, Delhi
Dear friend,

What you have written is quite horrible. We should be moving from uncivilised world to civilised one. However, our march appears to be contrary. Anyway my comments are based on what you have written. I am taking your comments without pinch of salt.

Do you have evidence of the illegal sale of software design? Has he pocketed the money by doing this illegal sale or he deposited this money to the company's accounts?

Did you lodge police complaint only for the physical assault or for illegal sale of company's assets (designs) as well? Do you have copy of the police complaint? Have you withdrawn the complaint? In fact you should not have withdrawn the complaint. This would have augmented your case. Has he given written apology to the police authorities?

What are the terms of his employment? On what grounds has he given resignation? Has he given resignation letter at all? Did he mention in his letter that he is ready to forego the notice period?

If the employee has not given any letter of resignation but stopped reporting for work then it is case of abandonment of employment. You may send him notice for abandonment of employment. If employee refuses to report for work then you may conduct enquiry for the abandonment of employment and then terminate the employee.

Now the option available at hand is to conduct the enquiry for the illegal sale of software design. Send him reply that he needs to depose before the enquiry. Based on the enquiry findings, you may lodge a police complaint. Further it will be a legal course.

Other senior members may give their opinions. In the meanwhile you may solicit legal opinion from good lawyer as well.

Learning from the incident: - It appears that the instance has arisen out of lack of emotional control, lack of assertiveness. Leadership demands these personal qualities as well.


Dinesh V Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dinesh's response summarizes the views of many members--that MORE info is needed before any well-informed suggestions are given.
Pl confirm the various aspects of the case.
For eg., your mentioned "....settlement reached at end of day wherein he agreed to resign and settle matters". What sort of settlement was it--financial or withdrawing of the Police Complaint or BOTH or anything else? Also, 'he agreed to resign'--BUT DID HE? What did he mean [or how did you understand it as] when he said 'settle matters'? What was the end-result of this aspect?
Pl give as much info as possible. The legal members would also be able to give their views.

From India, Hyderabad
Hi Friends,

Thanks for the replies.

The settlement that was involved was as follows

1. He would resign from job and forgo notice period ie. give 1 month's salary to the company in order to get the relieving letter

2. Admit to his fault of stealing the design and giving it someone else.

However, he has now sent a notice stating that as per his appointment letter, company is liable to pay him 3 months salary for termination or give 1 months termination notice. The appointment letter clearly states that employee has to give 1 months notice or equivalent amount in lieu of notice period and on termination apart from his working days due, company owes nothing.

I have a met senior lawyer from the h'ble SC, who is of opinion that I should clear out his salary as per norms and press for FIR for criminal conduct and breach of trust on passing the design to 3rd party. A second FIR is to be filed for physical assault. We did consider the option of him absconding from work but this could potentially drag the matter and give him option to file counter charges for not releasing his salary dues.

From India, Delhi
Was the police present when the compromise was made ?
You can and should hold back his salary.
Since he is guilty of fraud, you are very much entitled to recover the cost of the fraud from him.
You should file an FIR if not already filed, both for the fraud and the physical assault.
The police should be willing to record the same since they were present and called.
Your appointment letter has 3 months notice from your side and 1 month from employee side ? I have not heard of a contract so loaded in favour of the employee. Is there a clause for termination in case of fault ? If not, then you need to speak to your lawyer and see if there is any such clause you can use now.

From India, Mumbai
1. The compromise was made in front of SI and a constable. The witness and signatory to the compromise was the father of the employee.
2. The appointment letter talks about employee serving notice period of 1 month or 1 months salary in its lieu. For termination clause, there is no provision of notice period from company within the appointment letter. Therefore the demand from employee is completely rejected.
After having cleared the salary, he has no grounds left to take any penal action against the firm or its directors. We are now going ahead and filing a FIR for theft, and physical assault and our claim for damages.

From India, Delhi
Your post said 3 months notice, which confused the matter I still think you should not have paid him salary The compromise is adequate for defence in any court
From India, Mumbai
My original post stated what the contents of notice that was served by employee. Sorry if it was cause of confusion.
From India, Delhi
Dear friend,
If the settlement agreement is properly worded you might be placed better to take him to the court, which I mean he confessing to 1)stealing your co. property, 2) trying to sell to others clandestinely 3) agreed to resign without any compensation 4) admitting his guilt of assaulting you and witnessed by his father and the police. Did this agreement mentions anything about the compensation ? It's very clear he also might have taken legal help to defend his case. Was the FIR really regd. ? what is it's position ? did they proceed with it ? was any charges framed by the police against him based on the FIR ? As you already have the advices of an eminent advocate it may not be fitting confusing U with our opinions which may lead you no where. Go ahead with legal opinion and make sure you have all relevant evidences and documents, eye witnesses etc. which only can strengthen your case.

From India, Bangalore
If I may add to this : Please let us know how exactly you are proceeding And if possible what is the outcome. At least for me, it will add to the knowledge base.
From India, Mumbai

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