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RobertJDFL
RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 10260
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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I was questioned by my employer. What should I do to protect

Customer Question

I was questioned by my employer. What should I do to protect myself?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for using Just Answer.

Questioned by your employer about what, exactly? What is your concern? There's not enough information to understand what you are asking.

Also, do you have an employment contract, or a union agreement?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

My employer questioned me why I downloaded a file (which contained important code) into a external hard drive instead of keeping in corporate internal temperate server. Here is reason: My coworker complained that the codes were wiped out once and he has to re-write it. In order to not lose this again, I asked my coworker to upload this file to the internal server and then each of us will keep a copy so we won't lose it again. The purpose is to protect the code and fasten the working process of a project. However, some how triggered the internal investigation. All of my computers and cellphones were taken by the internal investigator and my badge was De-actived. I feel innocent, angry and insulted. not so sure what to do next. I was scheduled to a 10-days vacation but not sure whether or not I should go. Please help.

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.
Did you tell your employer your reason for the download? It sounds like their concerns are security and/or the release of proprietary information, and that they took your computer and cellphone to see if you distributed the file elsewhere.

Have you been put on leave or suspended at this time or are you being allowed to work?

Do you have an employment contract or a union agreement?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I have been put on suspended starting Friday not terminated the employment. The HR and investigator confirmed that this was not a employment termination but just follow normal procedures. I was asked to have a good vacation and do not share with my boss or any other person. I did signed contract when I was hired but so sure it is the employment contract as you said.

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.
Appreciate your reply. You obviously kow your employer better than I do, but this doesn't sound out of the ordinary. The employer seems to want to ensure that the information your downloaded was not otherwise given out, hence the reason your cellphone and computer were taken, because I am sure they will be looked at. I am sure you have shared with your employer the reason you did what you did, and to be honest, there's little else you can do at this point. Given that you are suspended and therefore presumably not even allowed to show up to the office, whether you go on vacation or not will not change things -the employer is still going to investigate and come to the same conclusion.

Now, the question is whether you do have an employment contract or not (most employees don't, to be honest). If you don't have an employment contract, then you are considered to be an "at will" employee, which means an employer can terminate you at any time, for any reason, even no reason at all, so long as it is not done for an unlawful reason -such as terminating you because of your race, or religion, for example. Thus, even if the employer determines that you had no ulterior motive in downloading the file, they could still determine that it was a serious enough violation to warrant terminating you. As an at will employee, they could terminate you "just because" in fact. Many employers will have you sign an employee handbook, but that is not the same thing - and indeed, they normally make clear that it is not a contract, and you are still an at will employee.

Thus, I wish I could tell you the news were better -but there's nothing you can do at this point. The employer has already decided to suspend you, and absent an employment contract which may give you more rights, can terminate you with or without cause.
RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 10260
Experience: Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
RobertJDFL and 11 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Should I discuss this with my friends in the company?

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.

I wouldn't. If your employer is thinking of allowing you to return to work, then discussing the matter with anyone after they have told you not to could be seen as insubordination and a reason to terminate you.

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