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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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I reported a situation at work where a co-worker went on vacation

Customer Question

I reported a situation at work where a co-worker went on vacation with a vendor. i found out because I heard my co-worker (Jane) say that she was going to Florida to a health resort. The next week, I found out that the vendor was out of the office as well. These two have a long history of being friends and my co-worker Jane has history of vendor bias. She is in a position where she can (and has) influenced the use of their products. I called the hotel where I knew Jane was staying and confirmed that the vendor was there too.
I informed my boss that Jane and this vendor were on vacation together. My boss is concerned and reported it to Employee Relations for further investigation. Employee Relations will be speaking with me tomorrow. What should I say when they ask me how I know that they were on vacation together? Do I have to disclose how I know? If I say that I called the hotel, am I implicating myself?
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 months ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question. This is a situation in which the law will play essentially no role. There is nothing illegal about a vendor and a coworker vacationing together. There is nothing illegal about calling the hotel where they are vacationing to confirm this fact. There is nothing illegal about questioning you about how you came to know about the vacation. And there would be nothing illegal about terminating the co-worker or you for that matter (not that you have stated any facts which would even remotely suggest that would happen) since employment is "at will" and can be terminated for virtually any reason at any time. This situation is much more about company politics than it is about the law. I am sure your employer appreciates knowing about what you reported, but you also don't want to give the impression that you crossed lines or "snooped." How you handle the meeting is therefore a personal judgment call. You don't "have" to disclose how you know about their vacation, but then again, nothing legally "has" to happen in this situation at all. The law does not address these situations. Personally, I don't see anything wrong about calling the hotel to verify this inappropriate relationship. Your employer is unlikely to see anything wrong with it either. But, of course, you are in a far better position to determine how they would actually react. Hopefully the above gives you some perspective on the situation and enables you to make the best decision moving forward.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 months ago.
Was I able to answer your question here? Please let me know.....
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 months ago.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Hi patrick, yes, you answered my question. When i spoke to employee relations today and I said that i called the hotel they asked if any one from the company asked me to do so. I said no. I said i was suspicous about the relationship and confirmed it. That their relationship has led to vendor bias. The employee relations person made me feel like i was the one who did something wrong. I asked if i was in trouble and she answered -- i cant say at this point....
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 months ago.
Thank you for following up. Did you have a specific question about this development for me? I am unsure what you are asking.....
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
i guess my question is can i get in trouble for calling the hotel.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 months ago.
Thank you. I believe that is what I addressed above. This is not a situation which the law will govern at all. Employment is "at will" absent an express agreement to the contrary, which means you can be terminated for virtually any reason at all, regardless of whether that reason is fair or even true. Your employer could terminate you because you forgot to tie your shoes if they wanted. Thus, there would be nothing here from a legal standpoint that would protect your job. Now, although your employer "could" terminate or discipline you, it really wouldn't make much sense to. Terminations cost employers money because they have to hire and train a replacement. Discipline serves no purpose unless the employer truly believes that you did something wrong. Calling the hotel does not, in my opinion, seem like something that could warrant discipline much less termination. So, while your employer would have the freedom to, I just don't see it happening. I hope this clarifies things. Again, please feel free to let me know if you have any further concerns. If I have answered your question, I would be very grateful for a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you.Very best wishes.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 months ago.
Please kindly remember to rate my service if I have answered your question, as this is the only way that I am credited for my time. Best wishes, Patrick

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