Black Friday at Real Estate Webmasters

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On Friday, September 12, 2008 Real Estate Webmasters terminated employment of 3 full time staff members (two creative team members and one member of our CSR / team) -

The "speciifc details" of this termination will remain private however I will be providing a brief overview. I want to ensure that our customers are aware of the situation (especially those currently engaged in current dialogue with these team members) as their sudden absense will naturally cause curiosity and because we will be re-assigning thier current projects.

Overview:

The three aforementioned individuals had engaged in their own non competitive side projects. REW corporate policy permits this as long as the team members are engaged in projects that do not compete with Real Estate Webmasters (creating a conflict of interest), work on these projects on their own time and respect the privacy and intellectual property of Real Estate Webmasters.

Upon investigation of these side projects, it was determined that these individuals were making use of proprietary REW frameworks and code without the knowledge or permission of REW senior management. This constitutes intellectual property theft and is an illegal act. Upon further investigation it was discovered that these individuals were misrepresenting their side business as being responsible for producing many projects in the Real Estate Webmasters portfolio in sales material / email solicitations or bids to prospective clients. Our investigations also found 2 of the 3 individuals to be in violation of several other "minor" violations of REW corporate policy during their work hours however these details will remain private and are not pertinent to this post.

Result:

All 3 individuals were terminated effective immediately. Our internal team has completed a full audit of each member's workstation and we are completely confident that no customer's intellectual property, information or privacy has been compromised in any way. None of these members were privy to (nor did they have access to) any confidential customer records or billing information of any kind.

Effect / resolution:

IDX (New customers only) - As the CSR member was assigned as our "IDX co-ordinator" there may be slight delays in processing IDX paperwork for new members until such time as we have assigned another member from the team to fill his role. However, we are equipped and have several other team members familiar with the IDX data access process and these delays should not be significant.

Design / Creative: - This termination of the two creative team members will only affect those design clients with "current" (incomplete) projects and only those assigned to them specifically. For one member this constitutes 4 customers. For the other, 3 customers. We certainly understand the inconvenience that having to switch creative / design team members during a project creates and we do apologize to these customers. We will of course not be charging for the labor / time that newly assigned design team members require for communication and getting up to speed, familiarizing themselves with the project - and we will be bonusing each customer $500 of labor in addition to their existing project budget as an apology for the inconvenience. We will be re-assigning these existing projects to alternate design team members immediately, and customers should expect to receive an introduction from their new creative team member within the week.

Once again, I truly apologize for the inconvenience that this unexpected situation will create for certain members of our customer base. We (I) thank you for your patience as we work through what will no doubt be a difficult next couple of weeks.

Final comments:

I truly believe that these individuals underestimated the nature, severity and consequences of their actions. However upon interview, I believe that each one responded very responsibly and took accountability for their involvement. Their actions during the 24 hours following their dismissal leave me feeling very confident that no further action (legal or civil) will be required to resolve this situation.

For the production members: I also wanted the both of you to know how very proud I am of the work that you produced during your employment here at Real Estate Webmasters. This situation is unfortunate to be sure, what you did was wrong and I do hope that you are able to learn from it - it was a very big mistake to make, however we all make them, and it's the learning and how we handle the aftermath of such situations that define our character.

Not only should you be proud of how you handled yourselves during and after this incident, you should also (and always) be very proud of your talents and the work that you have produced for Real Estate Webmasters. Your contributions during your stay with us are greatly appreciated and your talents will be missed.

As for our readers - you may think I am being soft by saying this, but please don't be too hard on these young men when reading this. They made a mistake (a very big one), and have been held accountable for their actions. I for one, have made many mistakes in my life as has everyone - this situation is very unfortunate and these gentleman are now forced to deal with the consequences of their actions.

Originally when I wrote this, I included their names however I have decided to omit them as I do not want to cause any unnecessary or undue embarrassment to themselves or their families. Naturally we will need to provide the individuals' names to those customers whose projects are directly affected - however I would ask that if you are commenting here, that you respect my decision and not post their names during commenting. They have been incredibly responsible in their handling of this issue and diligent in their attempts to remove as best they can any and all infractions. It doesn't change or excuse what they did (it was wrong, and illegal) however hopefully it redeems them in some way.

Once again thank you for your patience, support and understanding as we work through this unfortunate incident.

Comments

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OCTeam

Thank you for taking swift action in order to protect the integrity of your staff and company, as well as this communication to your customers. Hopefully, they have learned that character is what you do when no one is looking. Everyone can be replaced, so on to a brighter future for REW. Tomorrow is the start of better things to come. Best of luck hiring some bright, new talent!

DavidAbernathy

Thanks for keeping us aware of the situation.

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