Is it illegal to allow a terminated employee to come back and delete emails and files

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Is it illegal to allow a terminated employee to come back and delete emails and files

A former Controller after 18 years is terminated. She was allowed to come back by
the CFO’s approval to come into her old office and delete files and emails from
her computer. Keep in mind, this person was heavily attempting to get the non-
profit to comply with her request. The allowed it to happen. The HR Director was
against it from the start and mentioned that ‘we don’t know of what is on her PC
and what and why she wants to delete, she won’t tell us.’ It was overruled and
she was allowed to come back. Meanwhile, the HR Director refused to assist in the
efforts to allow her to do so. This has to deal with a very large church non-
profit financial department.

Asked on August 1, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not illegal. Termination means you don't have the *right* to be there or use company equipment, etc., but it doesn't mean you are legally barred from being at work or doing anything with company files, equipment, etc.--if the employer wants to let the terminated employee come and site and delete things, it can.
It is, however, highly unwise to let a terminated employee come and delete files and emails--she may be deleting things the employer needs, or things which shows what happened to money, or things which show legal violations, etc. I cannnot imagine *why* they would let her do this--but they could.


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