Breach Of Confidentiality?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by popking, Sep 21, 2012.

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  1. popking

    popking UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    I am currently on suspension from work over an alleged breach of confidentiality and have to attend an investigation meeting shortly. I was caught reading a document that I had found on another managers desk. I appreciate this was morally wrong, but there are a number of mitigating circumstances and my state of mind recently has been very poor. I have submitted a grievance about some separate matters in relation to this.

    Can anyone explain whether the action of reading a document just left on a desk (not locked away securely etc.) constitutes a breach of confidentiality, or if the manager in question who left this document on his desk for anyone to read from the cleaner to a workman to the director would be the one in breach? I would always personally have locked any such sensitive documents away.

    For information, Breach of Confidentiality is something explicitly mentioned as a possible gross misconduct reason.

    There is however nothing in my contract to cover confidentiality of this nature.
     
    Posted: Sep 21, 2012 By: popking Member since: Sep 21, 2012
    #1
  2. bwglaw

    bwglaw UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    It all depends on the nature of your work, the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged breach. It also depends on what your employers policies say about breach of confidentiality.
     
    Posted: Sep 23, 2012 By: bwglaw Member since: Apr 8, 2005
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  3. Richie N

    Richie N UKBF Big Shot Free Member

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    Not sure if you can really put it down to your state of mind being poor lately, maybe the best thing to do is admit that you were in the wrong to reading these documents.
     
    Posted: Sep 23, 2012 By: Richie N Member since: Nov 1, 2006
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  4. popking

    popking UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    The document that was read was a performance management document for my immediate line manager left lying around on his line managers desk. I have not discussed and would not discuss the contents with anyone else, and there is nothing to cover this in my contract or any policy that I can find.
     
    Posted: Sep 23, 2012 By: popking Member since: Sep 21, 2012
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  5. popking

    popking UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    I am intending to do this as well, I was just hoping to establish some sort of context.
     
    Posted: Sep 23, 2012 By: popking Member since: Sep 21, 2012
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  6. arcon5

    arcon5 UKBF Ace Free Member

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    Is it an open office or does he have a seperate office? Why was you at his desk?
     
    Posted: Sep 23, 2012 By: arcon5 Member since: Sep 6, 2006
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  7. Paul_Rosser

    Paul_Rosser UKBF Big Shot Full Member - Verified Business

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    I don't imagine Breach of Confidentiality could be used as you haven't shared the information with anyone else and you could just say you were looking for something else and had to read it to see if it was the document you needed.

    If they say you still shouldn't then use the defence that something that confidential shouldn't really have been left lying around and that in itself should be considered a Breach of Confidentiality.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
    Posted: Sep 23, 2012 By: Paul_Rosser Member since: Jul 5, 2012
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  8. popking

    popking UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    It is an open office, but the manager in question has a separate office within this that is sometimes used (by many people on the floor, myself included) to hold meetings in. It was during one of these meetings I noticed the document and for somewhat selfish reasons, some of which I alluded to earlier, later that day, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to take a look.

    Until recently, I was acting up in the role above mine, and around 2 weeks ago - totally out of the blue - I was told this opportunity was being taken away for me with very limited reasons given as to why. (That's part of the reason for the grievance) [FONT=&quot]I hoped this document may shed some more light on the reasons why or at least help me feel better about going back to my old role as I was on the verge of just giving up and resigning[/FONT].

    I know it doesn't excuse my actions, but I didn't mean any harm by them.
     
    Posted: Sep 23, 2012 By: popking Member since: Sep 21, 2012
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  9. 123Simples

    123Simples UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

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    In a way you have answered your own question - it doesn't excuse your actions. I assume from what you've said you looked at a document that had nothing to do with you whatsoever, and from what I can read in what you say, this document was in an office of a manager - not your office but their office.

    Whether or not they did anything wrong is neither here or there - and for all you know this alleged breach of confidentiality may not even be related to your prying eyes.

    Get yourself a No Win No Fee lawyer if you think you stand a good chance and have been unfairly targeted
     
    Posted: Sep 23, 2012 By: 123Simples Member since: Jul 10, 2011
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  10. 10032012

    10032012 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Don't ever admit liability.

    If you had a right to use that room (i.e. for meetings etc.) your official story needs to be that you left a piece of paper somewhere, you thought it was on that desk and you looked at it to determine whether it was the missing paper or not.

    Unless you had a portable hand scanner, took a picture or read it out loud while recording... you haven't really did anything wrong legally in regards to your employment.

    Paul is right... if its a sensitive document it shouldn't have been left out (even if the door was locked... it should have been locked away in a filing cabinet etc.) and no breach of confidentiality occurred.

    Its just a knee jerk reaction from a red faced manager. Well you got some addition "holiday" out of it. If you are dismissed for this then you need to take them to a tribunal. Prepare for this meeting. Grow a pair, get your story straight... stop admitting liability, it might work as a friendly goodwill gesture with someone on equal level as you, but anyone of authority (even your boss) don't be giving them fuel for the fire. If its with the manager make sure he knows it was him being unreasonable. If its out in the open in a unlocked room, what does he expect? As long as you didn't breach trust or confidentiality, nothing really happened here.
     
    Posted: Sep 23, 2012 By: 10032012 Member since: Mar 10, 2012
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  11. Paul_Rosser

    Paul_Rosser UKBF Big Shot Full Member - Verified Business

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    Just to add, if the person holding the tribunal is the same person who left this document lying around then request someone else holds the meeting, or at the very least ask for someone from HR and a witness be present as it's unlikely you will get a fair hearing as your defence is that the person holding the tribunal caused this situation.
     
    Posted: Sep 24, 2012 By: Paul_Rosser Member since: Jul 5, 2012
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  12. number42

    number42 UKBF Regular Free Member

    135 6
    So during a meeting you were conducting you decided to have a look at a piece of paper left lying about on the desk you were conducting the meeting over?
    If so then you could just say you noticed a piece of paper on the desk and looked to see if it was something you accidentally dropped. Game over. It's like sending an email accidentally throughout the office intended for one person only and then them complaining that everyone who read it was in breach of confidentiality. Rhidiculouse!
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
    Posted: Sep 24, 2012 By: number42 Member since: Jul 8, 2010
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  13. Stuart Bailey

    Stuart Bailey UKBF Regular Full Member

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    In my opinion breach of confidentiality is more to do with you releasing information to the public or to customers.

    Speak to a local firm of solicitors who specialise in employment, they will be able to help you.
     
    Posted: Sep 24, 2012 By: Stuart Bailey Member since: Oct 29, 2010
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  14. bwglaw

    bwglaw UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    It does seem from what you say you had implied permission to be in the room. The issue here is that you were reading a document that you should not have been privy to and knew you were not entitled to access the document. It does not sound like from what you say that you accidentally saw the document as you seem to have gone out of your way to read it contents.

    It will now all boil down to how the employer will perceive your actions and interpret those in accordance with their policies and/or your contract of employment. I do not know the nature of your employers business or your role/seniority or any other factor that may assist you further in determining the likely course of action.
     
    Posted: Sep 24, 2012 By: bwglaw Member since: Apr 8, 2005
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  15. Muffiee

    Muffiee UKBF Contributor Free Member

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    So you wanted a nosy in some private documents and took a gamble, it didnt pay off deal with it!
    If you were working for me that would be instant sack!
     
    Posted: Sep 25, 2012 By: Muffiee Member since: Jun 26, 2010
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  16. MrCloser

    MrCloser UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Are they trying to winkle you out for something else?

    This was a shared open office, not his bedroom. Sensitive documents (about staff reshuffles? ) should be kept well out of sight of staff - almost like you have been set up here. You were clumsy and indiscreet but seems like an over-reaction.

    I was told this opportunity was being taken away for me with very limited reasons given as to why. quite natural that anyone would want to know, maybe if you had not been left in the dark your curiosity wouldn't have got the better of you.

    were you mentioned by name in the document?
    Do we need any "redundancies" now?
    how confidential/sensitive was it?

    These are the sort of questions that I'd be asking if I were deciding upon it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012
    Posted: Sep 25, 2012 By: MrCloser Member since: Aug 2, 2011
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  17. internetspaceships

    internetspaceships Banned Full Member

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    Well. You've got a lot of sensible advice from people so far, which bearing in mind this forums is designed for business owners and managment, is a kind set of responses.

    I tend to agree with the people who say that you've been caught with your fingers in the cookie jar here, however due process does have to be followed and the advice given is very helpful.

    Hopefully you'll take the time to come back and thank all the people who have given you help and advice.
     
    Posted: Sep 25, 2012 By: internetspaceships Member since: Sep 7, 2009
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  18. sirearl

    sirearl UKBF Legend Free Member

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    Were you ever a scout master.? Dib Dib Dib, Dab Dab Dab.:D

    P.S this is a business forum last time I looked,and there are far more employed people in business ,than employer''s or managers.:|
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012
    Posted: Sep 25, 2012 By: sirearl Member since: Apr 23, 2007
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  19. 10032012

    10032012 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    managers are employed too
     
    Posted: Sep 25, 2012 By: 10032012 Member since: Mar 10, 2012
    #19
  20. internetspaceships

    internetspaceships Banned Full Member

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    Yeah so are Company Directors, but when's he ever let facts get in the way of a good dig at someone? :)
     
    Posted: Sep 25, 2012 By: internetspaceships Member since: Sep 7, 2009
    #20
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