How long do I have to keep my employer’s worker materials ifI worked at home and they are now out of business?

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How long do I have to keep my employer’s worker materials ifI worked at home and they are now out of business?

I worked at home for my employer. But I used an employer computer. My employer went out of business 8 weeks ago. It was not a “good” separation. My employer has not asked for her computer back. I do not plan on returning it unless she askes for it. But what responsibilities do I have regarding the storage and safe keeping of the computer and files? And for how long? (1) How long do I have to hold onto her computer? (2) Can I keep it? (3) Can I use the software , hardware and any files on the computer? (4) Can I reformat the computer? (5) Can I give the computer to charity?

Asked on August 13, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Do you have an employment agreement?  Have you read it?  Here is the bottom line: unless it says otherwise specifically in an agreement, it is not your computer and the files and software are not yours either.  You used it pursuant to your employment status and if you do anything to harm the computer or transfer the computer to another you could be opening yourself up to a criminal action. once type of action you could open yourself up to is for conversion of the computer and the software.  You need to keep the computer and the components safe.  It needs to be returned and you should do so as soon as possible.  It is not worth the trouble that she can cause you should something happen.  Your reputation is much more important.  Good luck.


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