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Disciplinary Query - Urgent

Discussion in 'Employment & HR' started by Ian Smith, Nov 10, 2018 at 3:47 PM.

  1. Ian Smith

    Ian Smith UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    13 0
    Hi,

    I'm hoping someone here can help with my query. Recently at work, a colleague of mine who works in my office took a personal document of mine from my desk without my permission and made a photocopy of it and handed it to senior management. For the record, it was a poem which had a political slant (contained some swear words too) on it - as a result, I am now facing disciplinary.

    I want to ask: did that colleague of mine breach GDPR by taking something from my desk without my permission? If so, which aspect of GDPR can I reference?

    That being said, I think my employer is taking me to task because of the content of the poem. It's not an inflammatory poem, nor does it incite anything sinister; it's a poem of empowerment more than anything.

    I feel aggrieved, as that document could've been anything - a bank letter, a hospital letter, etc. I feel like it amounts to theft of my personal effects, but I'm unsure where I stand legally.

    Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.
     
    Posted: Nov 10, 2018 at 3:47 PM By: Ian Smith Member since: Nov 10, 2018
    #1
  2. Ian J

    Ian J Factoring Specialist Full Member - Verified Business

    4,770 1,333
    I can't see that it has anything to do with data protection and theft is defined as the intent to permanently deprive which doesn't seem to be what happened
     
    Posted: Nov 10, 2018 at 4:04 PM By: Ian J Member since: Nov 6, 2004
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  3. obscure

    obscure UKBF Ace Free Member

    2,451 557
    No.
     
    Posted: Nov 10, 2018 at 4:22 PM By: obscure Member since: Jan 18, 2008
    #3
  4. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Big Shot Free Member

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    What are they alleging in the disciplinary process?

    Separately, why would you have any personal information lying around on your work desk?
     
    Posted: Nov 10, 2018 at 4:35 PM By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
    #4
  5. menetworkjadaltd

    menetworkjadaltd UKBF Regular Free Member

    374 54
    Knew you'd say that
     
    Posted: Nov 10, 2018 at 5:09 PM By: menetworkjadaltd Member since: Dec 14, 2011
    #5
  6. Ian Smith

    Ian Smith UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    13 0
    Sorry, I should've been a bit more clear. It's not gone to a formal disciplinary yet - the senior manager who spoke to me made it clear to me that I'm not being suspended, but would like me to come into work on Monday two hours after my normal start time so he can consult other members of senior management to decide on what course of action to take.

    I will therefore know more on Monday when I've spoken to him. However, in the conversation I did have with him, he said that the wording in the poem is offensive (although he didn't point out exactly which parts) due to the language being used.
     
    Posted: Nov 10, 2018 at 5:42 PM By: Ian Smith Member since: Nov 10, 2018
    #6
  7. Ian Smith

    Ian Smith UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    13 0
    It was a bad error of judgement, admittedly. I had it in my pedestal to begin with, but had a moment of sloppiness by taking it out and leaving it on my desk.

    Not my cleverest moment.
     
    Posted: Nov 10, 2018 at 5:43 PM By: Ian Smith Member since: Nov 10, 2018
    #7
  8. Ian Smith

    Ian Smith UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    13 0
    Thanks - you're right in saying that. However, I can't help but feel like it is definitely a form of theft, as it was an unauthorised duplication of a personal document. I know I certainly wouldn't violate someone else's privacy by doing that, because it would feel morally reprehensible.
     
    Posted: Nov 10, 2018 at 5:51 PM By: Ian Smith Member since: Nov 10, 2018
    #8
  9. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

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    Would theft have any bearings on your disciplinary?
     
    Posted: Nov 10, 2018 at 6:04 PM By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
    #9
  10. Ian Smith

    Ian Smith UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    I'd like to think so.

    If it wasn't taken from my desk, it'd have never have been raised as an issue.
     
    Posted: Nov 10, 2018 at 6:09 PM By: Ian Smith Member since: Nov 10, 2018
    #10
  11. Raw Rob

    Raw Rob UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

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    Maybe it used to be defined this way, but taking a copy of something is also theft (copying a CD, an MP3, a film, a photograph, etc.)
     
    Posted: Nov 10, 2018 at 6:36 PM By: Raw Rob Member since: Aug 1, 2009
    #11
  12. paulears

    paulears UKBF Big Shot Full Member

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    Anything you create in your work is normally, by a clause in your contract, your employers. So if you wrote a poem, that was nice, in work time, then they would have claim to it. Your colleague cannot steal something that already belongs to the company. It's like when people complain somebody used 'their' hole puncher, when it's actually the firms hole puncher. Your 'crime' appears to be leaving not laying around where others could read it. Slagging off your bosses is one thing, but a political poem, even a rude one would not appear to break any rules - unless you signed something saying you wouldn't make political statements. I expect you did it during your breaks and not during work time, so that sorts that bit. What do you think they believe you did that is wrong? what broke your rules? forget the copying bit - not important, but it does perhaps indicate your views are not held by your colleagues, so maybe they are the ones offended by it?
     
    Posted: Nov 10, 2018 at 6:47 PM By: paulears Member since: Jan 7, 2015
    #12
  13. Ian Smith

    Ian Smith UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    13 0
    I'd have thought so too.
     
    Posted: Nov 10, 2018 at 6:49 PM By: Ian Smith Member since: Nov 10, 2018
    #13
  14. Ian Smith

    Ian Smith UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    13 0
    I didn't write the poem myself - it was written by a mainstream poet, and something which I printed off right at the end of the working day (i.e. outside my contracted hours of work).

    I haven't signed anything to say that I will not be making any political statements. In any case, the contents of the poem weren't ever vocalised or discussed with my colleagues.

    As for what they believe I did wrong - the senior manager I spoke to said that it's a poem that he felt offended by and that the language used is offensive. That's all he said.

    He didn't really mention what rules I've broken or anything. He just said he's going to consult with other senior managers and make some phone calls in order to decide on a course of action.
     
    Posted: Nov 10, 2018 at 6:58 PM By: Ian Smith Member since: Nov 10, 2018
    #14
  15. paulears

    paulears UKBF Big Shot Full Member

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    Just an aside - I'm no legal expert, but taking a copy of a document cannot be theft, because the original is still with the owner. The copy could be evidence for some other crime, I suppose - but making the copy doesn't permanently deprive the owner of the item, and can you imagine the queue at court when office workers copied documents that had not been 'copy approved' - if it was theft, they'd all be in trouble. Photocopying is surely a rights issue, not a criminal one?
     
    Posted: Nov 10, 2018 at 7:26 PM By: paulears Member since: Jan 7, 2015
    #15
  16. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

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    The management may well investigate the issue of someone taking something from a desk. Or not, as they choose.
    Separate from their issue with you.

    This to me appears an overreaction - if I had a copy of something on my desk my bosses didn't like then at best I'd expect to have the boss call me in for a quiet meeting where I'm asked to remove it.
    At best.
    At worst I'd simply expect it to be removed and destroyed.

    By the sound of it the action taken is serious - which suggests either complete idiots or something more involved.

    Perhaps someone reported offensive material?
     
    Posted: Nov 10, 2018 at 8:14 PM By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
    #16
  17. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Big Shot Free Member

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    Whatever your colleague did is completely irrelevant to what is happening to you. Forget it, you are trying to sidetrack whatever issue your manager wants to speak to you about. When you know what that is, seek advice about it.
     
    Posted: Nov 10, 2018 at 8:50 PM By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
    #17
  18. Ian Smith

    Ian Smith UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Thanks Cyndy.
     
    Posted: Nov 10, 2018 at 10:53 PM By: Ian Smith Member since: Nov 10, 2018
    #18
  19. obscure

    obscure UKBF Ace Free Member

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    No it isn't... it's copyright infringement. Theft requires that you deprive someone of the use. Copying doesn't do that.
     
    Posted: Nov 11, 2018 at 5:22 AM By: obscure Member since: Jan 18, 2008
    #19
  20. dotcomdude

    dotcomdude UKBF Regular Full Member

    120 13
    As your manager has asked you to come in two hours later on Monday, it sounds like he wants this to be taken seriously. He could easily have consulted his colleagues with you doing your normal hours.

    As daft as it sounds, he might also consider that you printed off the poem in working hours, and in any case using their equipment.

    Is there any chance that this could cause them to look at your activity during work hours and find anything else? I only say this because I’ve seen similar circumstances where the individual was doing self-employed work in their employers time. Obviously that didn’t end well for the employee.

    I’d say be prepared for anything, but don’t lose your cool and do anything rash. Calmly explain your reasoning why you might disagree with any conclusion they have come to.

    You’ll be better placed to ask for advice when you know what their next move is.
     
    Posted: Nov 11, 2018 at 7:37 AM By: dotcomdude Member since: Jul 27, 2018
    #20