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Unwarranted complaint by employee through HR


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#1 empolyee1

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 08:36 AM

I recently sent an "adult" type photo via text on my phone to the wrong phone number by mistake. The photo text was immediately followed up with several appology text messages along with three voice messages with a sincere applolgy. The person who recived the photo in error has pressed charges through her HR department which has contacted with my employer with a formal harrassment claim. I would like to know if I have a valid claim against the accuser for pushing forward a photo which was not intended for her? I am interested in a possible defamation claim.

#2 Fallen

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 08:54 AM

I think you apologized too much, first off.

One doesn't "press charges" through one's HR department, though one can complain. I gather your company and her company do business together (otherwise, it doesn't make sense at all).

"I would like to know if I have a valid claim against the accuser for pushing forward a photo which was not intended for her?"

Sorry, it's a bit unclear what you mean by "pushing forward" but once you sent something to her, that doesn't mean she's not free to show it to someone else because she feels (and all those unprompted apologies didn't help much) that you didn't really do it by accident.

"I am interested in a possible defamation claim."

Uhm, ok. Why? You haven't indicated anything in your post to show that defamation's occurred.

I'll echo PG's advisory "warning" with a twist: (Many) legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here might not fully identify or explain the ramifications of your particular problem. I do not give legal advice as such (and such is impermissible here at any rate). Comments are based on personal knowledge and experience and legal info gleaned over a quarter century, and every state has differing laws on and avenues to address most topics.  If you need legal advice, you need to consult (and pay) a professional so that you may have someone to hold accountable.  Acting on personal and informational advice from a stranger on the internet is a bad idea -- at least not without your own thorough due dilience/research and confirmation as it applies to your situation.  :)


#3 Guest_FindLaw_Amir_*

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 09:01 AM

To learn more about a possible defamation claim, you may wish to read the Defamation Law: The Basics as a good resource.

#4 pg1067

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 01:49 PM

The person who recived the photo in error has pressed charges through her HR department which has contacted with my employer with a formal harrassment claim.


First of all, the notion of "press[ing] charges through her HR department" makes no sense at all. The term "press charges" typically refers to the filing of criminal charges, and criminal charges can only be filed by a local state or county prosecutor (sometimes called a district attorney or state's attorney). Second, what does this have to do with your employer or the recipient's employer? It appears obvious that you and this person don't work together. Is she someone you know (i.e., did you send it to the wrong person on your contact list as opposed to a completely random person)? If so, do you know her because of business dealings? Third, what does "formal harassment claim" mean? What you did may have been careless or even stupid, but it wasn't "harassment" by any reasonable definition of that term.


I would like to know if I have a valid claim against the accuser for pushing forward a photo which was not intended for her?


Not sure what you mean by "pushing forward." However, when you sent this photo to her, you lost all control over it. I suppose, if you took the photo, you might have a copyright infringement claim if she were to publish it (e.g., by putting it online), but I can't even conceive what other sort of claim you might think you have.


I am interested in a possible defamation claim.


Generally best not to use terms when you clearly don't know what they mean. You aren't even in the right ballpark here, and I would encourage you to google the term to get an idea of what it means. In the meantime, I suggest you stop blaming the victim for the consequences of your own carelessness and that you think long and hard (no pun intended) before doing something like this again.

#5 empolyee1

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 03:05 PM

Well, all of your comments were interesting, but I must make it clear that I am not a lawyer, so please be patient with my choice of words. Secondly, to clarify my issue, I am not known to show, discuss, or text (as is in this case) adult pictures to anyone. I was sent the text by a friend as a joke, and I simply attempted to pass it on to another friend, and I missed the target obviously. Also to be clear, the picture was simply a picture of a beautiful woman in a thong bikini with humorous comment, created by some humorous person, somewhere.
The person who has complained is a vendor for my employer, and has forwarded the photo and is claiming harassment. As of today, my employer has descided to hold off on any final descisions until after the holiday break, but the threat of termination was implied. My fear is that this will become a bigger issue than it realy is, and I may lose my reputation and job, due the misleading harassment claim. To a certain extent, the vendor and I have crossed paths before with very negative results, and I feel that this is simply payback. My ultimate question is, if I am terminated over this claim, knowing that the photo was not intended for the person who received it, do I have a case against the vendor employee, and/or the vendor itself, for making such a big deal out of an electronic error? My inexperienced thoughts suggest possible undue stress and loss of employment over a simple mistake. I understand the gravity of this issue.

#6 doucar

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 11:58 PM

My ultimate question is, if I am terminated over this claim, knowing that the photo was not intended for the person who received it, do I have a case against the vendor employee, and/or the vendor itself, for making such a big deal out of an electronic error? My inexperienced thoughts suggest possible undue stress and loss of employment over a simple mistake.

No. Ultimately, the question is did you send the photo and did she receive it from you. She was within her rights to complain after receiving the photo and your claim that it was sent in error, does not negate the fact that you sent it to her.

#7 empolyee1

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 02:02 AM

Thank you for your answer. It is the same answer I received from my manager, and I was confused by it. However, I still don't understand why it is considered to be acceptable to use an electronic error as a weapon in the corporate world. So I pressed "send" to the wrong number! Why do people feel the need to create a "situation" instead of acting like a "reasonable person?"

I don't expect any other answers, I am just venting my frustration over the lack of common sence that exsists in corporate America! That said, perhaps it is proof that people who seek employment in HR are desireous of confidense provided by power? I have not yet met an HR person who uses common sense first and judges situations as carefully as possible. Again, thank you all. I will now crawl away with my dirty photo, and hurl my crappy phone in the river!

#8 pg1067

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 07:20 AM

My ultimate question is, if I am terminated over this claim, knowing that the photo was not intended for the person who received it, do I have a case against the vendor employee, and/or the vendor itself, for making such a big deal out of an electronic error?


No.

It is up to others to decide for themselves how "big" of an issue this is, and not everyone is required to share your view of the situation. While you didn't clearly say so, it seems as though this was a situation in which you forwarded this image to a person on your contact list other than the person for whom it was intended. While this may have been an unintended mistake, it was careless and irresponsible of you, and you have no one but yourself to blame for this. Perhaps the unintended nature of this and the fact that it happened only once will cause your employer to take no action, but that's entirely within your employer's discretion.

#9 Fallen

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 12:05 PM

I'm afraid the fact that you and the recipient "have crossed paths before with very negative results" doesn't help, even if you hadn't had a disagreement at any time in the recent past (nor did all the multiple apologies vs. a low-key single apology). I suggest that you take this person's phone number off your cell phone and only call them from a regular land line from here on in (and take their email out of your contact list, 'lest your unconscious mind decide to mess with you yet again; auto-complete feature in email can be a terrible thing).

YOU may know the photo wasn't intended for her, but there's no way on Earth to prove that. Be objective.

"... do I have a case against the vendor employee, and/or the vendor itself, for making such a big deal out of an electronic error?"

I don't see that, sorry, even if you can establish that she hates your guts. While a single incident doesn't a lawsuit make, your employer's free to decide they don't want to take any chances and that doing nothing will be a bad idea. Of course, they aren't obligated to discipline you or even fire you, but ... it's up to them.

I'll echo PG's advisory "warning" with a twist: (Many) legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here might not fully identify or explain the ramifications of your particular problem. I do not give legal advice as such (and such is impermissible here at any rate). Comments are based on personal knowledge and experience and legal info gleaned over a quarter century, and every state has differing laws on and avenues to address most topics.  If you need legal advice, you need to consult (and pay) a professional so that you may have someone to hold accountable.  Acting on personal and informational advice from a stranger on the internet is a bad idea -- at least not without your own thorough due dilience/research and confirmation as it applies to your situation.  :)


#10 pg1067

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 01:10 PM

Let me bottom line this. You don't dispute that you sent this photo to the person in question. Nor have you suggested that the recipient said anything false to your employer. Your only issue seems to be that the recipient and/or her employer is making "too big" of a deal about this. That's not something that gives rise to any sort of legal claim.

As for your own employer, I agree that your employer is free to do nothing or to fire you. Unfortunately, you have given your employer good reason to question your judgment and/or your attention to detail. You were careless about this. What else might you be careless about? What happens if you carelessly send something else to a more important business contact?

#11 empolyee1

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 10:44 AM

Yes, I painfully agree with both recent retorts. Thank you for your time and attention.




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