There is a bizarre case out of Indianapolis where fired IT employee Triano Williams took the password for a school account that controlled access for emails and course material for over 2000 students. Williams accused the American College of Education of firing him for racial reasons and allegedly refused to hand over the password. The for-profit college accused Williams of effective extortion in offering to hand over the password in exchange for a clear letter of reference and $200,000.
Williams insisted that the administrator’s password was autosaved on his company laptop that was returned to the college but he notably did not affirmatively hand over the password. However, the school says that Williams changed the password and login after or around the time that he was fired.
The school has been bringing its IT staff to Indianapolis and many resigned rather than make the move. That left Williams as the sole systems administrator when he was fired April 1 after refusing to relocate from suburban Chicago.
That left students without access to the system. When the school contacted Williams’ lawyer to get the password and information, Calvita J. Frederick wrote school that “In order to amicably settle this dispute, Mr. Williams requires a clean letter of reference and payment of $200,000.” Williams later filed a lawsuit in Chicago claiming racial discrimination. He said that the school knew that he could not move away from this daughter in Chicago under a joint custody agreement and that the relocation was a racially motivated action. However, Williams failed to appear at a number of hearings in the Indiana proceedings (which were difficult for Williams to attend). Eventually a default ruling was issued against him and Williams was ordered to pay the college $248,350 in damages.
The letter from Frederick has raised eyebrows over whether she was conditioning access on the payment of money. She insisted that the letter was simply a settlement letter and not a quid pro quo attempt.
The system has been now unlocked. What is interesting is that that the school will not collect on the roughly $250,000 judgment even though it accused him of intentionally blocking the school and its students.
The school clearly indicated that it hoped (expected) Williams to drop his discrimination lawsuit. Otherwise, the school could move on collecting the damages.