If I found incriminating documents about me written by my supervisor and they werefound on a computer that all staff has access to, what are my rights?

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If I found incriminating documents about me written by my supervisor and they werefound on a computer that all staff has access to, what are my rights?

I have noticed other staff members will not communicate with me or speak to me. This leads me to believe they have read the document. I don’t understand by my supervisor did not create and save the document on her computer. This should have been confidential information.

Asked on September 20, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Kansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You might not have recourse, unfortunately:

1) If it was information such as social security number, etc., which could be used in identify theft, then IF you suffer any actual loss or damages (e.g. someone does steal your identify), then the employer's failure to keep the information confidential could give rise to liabilty--but not unless/until there is a loss.

2) You say the information was "incriminating": unfortunately--

a) If it was true information, there is no liability for disclosing it; true facts about a person, even if bad for that person, may generally be disclosed unless there is a court order or contract to the contrary

b) If it was an opinion (e.g. "John/Jane Doe is an awful worker and a horrible person"), there is no liability--anyone may divulge an opinion at any time, to anyone, again unless there is some order or contract to the contrary

c) Even if it is false factual information which is negative (e.g. it states you stole something, when you did not), there may be know liability unless the supervisor actually "published" it, or put it out to other people. If it was just on a computer, but the supervisor was not him/herself disclosing it, then even if other people managed to find it, it is probably not defamation, since defamation requires some act to publish or disseminate the information.


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