Can A Photo Taken Of Me Be Used In Discipline?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a photo:

I got caught with my laptop at work but only because a co-worker took pictures of me and sent them to the site supervisor. Now I have to go have a meeting with him and the owner. What I want to know is, is that legal? Can he use that evidence against me?

Signed, Feeling Negative

DearĀ Feeling Negative:

The photo of you and your laptop aren’t evidence in a crime so there is no legality about how they can be used. You aren’t being charged with a crime nor was any crime violated by a coworker. Apparently you aren’t supposed to have your personal laptop at work but you brought it anyway. In whatever manner a supervisor finds out about a rules violation, action must be taken. Once your site supervisor became aware of it, he was obligated to take formal action (in this case, requiring you to meet with him and the owner of the business.) If he hadn’t done so, he could have been fired or disciplined too.If you only had it but weren’t using it during business hours that may be a circumstance you could use in your defense. But, since a coworker took a photo of it, it sounds as though this was not the first time. Perhaps it was and you can use THAT in your defense as well.You didn’t ask about the meeting, but I’ll suggest this: In situations like this, it is usually far better to go into the meeting with an air of apology and a promise to not do it again.

Trying to go on the offensive and say that the coworker wasn’t right to take the photo, will probably only upset everyone more.If you’ve been a good employee in the past and have had no problems about the amount of work you do or how you do it, you can point that out. Keep an attitude of appreciation for your job and a desire to continue to do well.When it’s over, do your best to not show anger to the coworker who took your photo. That could be seen as more of a problem than the laptop. He may feel guilty now about doing it. Or, he may feel that you are getting what you deserve. You probably will never know exactly how he feels about it and he may act as though he doesn’t feel badly at all. Just move forward with your work and let time take care of these bad feelings.Best wishes to you. If you wish to do so, let us know how this works out for you.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.