Can I Find Out Who Reported Me?

Question:

Approximately three years ago I was investigated by my corporation for allegedly working for another company while being paid to be off ill. I had been off for major clinical depression and had not been out of the house for 3 months, then my mentor asked if I wanted to get out of the house to accompany him for a project that I am not qualified for. (I had asked to come back to work because my doctor released me, however my company medical department advised that I be off several weeks more.)

Anyhow, the investigation was triggered because a co-worker somehow got a copy of a report that had my signature on it, showing that I was present for a learning experience to be credited toward a qualification in a professional society that I am a member of. (In a nutshell, I was not working – only observing, and I was not paid to be there.) Somehow it was sent to the corporation and they claimed that it had to be investigated.

The outcome of the very thorough investigation proved that I was innocent of the allegations, and they allowed me to come back to work. My question is, do I have the right to find out who brought the allegations against me? Is this harassment? Can an attorney assist me in finding this information? My goal is to find out who did it and prevent them from doing further harm. I think I know who did it and the individual has an ax to grind against me for something that he believes that I did but never happened.

Signed,

Innocent


Answer:

Dear Innocent:

I can imagine that this who situation has been stressful and frustrating when you knew you were innocent. However, unless there is a civil lawsuit and an attorney obtains a subpoena for records related to the investigation, your company isn’t obligated to provide the information–and probably shouldn’t. To do so would make other employees feel they couldn’t anonymously report ethical or other violations. I can see why you would like to know, but I can see why they wouldn’t provide the information.

I hope you will also consider this: The coworker would be viewed by most others as being correct to report what he or she thought was an impropriety on your part. If it had been obvious that it wasn’t, your company wouldn’t have had to investigate. So, apparently someone could easily have thought you were getting paid while being off work.

You really weren’t wrongly investigated, no matter how petty the motives were of the person who reported you. Your corporation didn’t just “claim” there had to be an investigation, they would have been wrong to not have investigated it. After all, you had been kept as an employee for the three months you were at home and they would need to make sure that leave of absence was used correctly.

If the report started at your office, through a coworker, it probably was looked at by several layers of management even before the investigation and they apparently all thought there was at least some appearance of wrongdoing.

It may be true that someone was hoping you would get in trouble, but you can’t allege they made something up, because they had a report that was accurate and all they did was ask someone else to look at it. Those other people thought there was something wrong too.

The bottom line is that even if someone jumped at the chance to use a suspicious report to get you in trouble (and the report may not have been forwarded by the person you suspect), you were proven innocent, so you weren’t harmed.

Probably the best thing for you to do is to focus on your long-term health and happiness and unless the person does something else to create a problem, find a way to move forward from this.

It may be that there is more to it than you were able to convey in a brief question, so there may be details an attorney would consider. You may want to consider asking for a free consultation to see if you have a situation that an attorney would feel was valid for a civil action or that he or she felt was an issue with which you could use the help of a lawyer.

Best wishes to you with this.

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.