Falsely Accused Of Using A Coworker’s Computer

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about accusation:

I was asked by my boss if I had been in a coworker’s computer. Of course my response was no. She asked “Are you sure?”. I responded by asking “How could I? I do not know or have access to her password and why would I?”She said a coworker called our IT dept requesting a change in her password because she thought I or someone had been in her computer. Do not know if the coworker asked about me specifically of if the IT dept told her it was I. Either way someone has obviously accused me of being the culprit, otherwise why would my boss ask?My boss said the IT dept told this coworker this was grounds for termination. Should I write a formal request to my boss, my boss’s boss or to the HR dept requesting documentation of this breach in security? I would like to clear my name and reputation. I am devastated my boss would even think I would do such a thing. What should I do?

Signed, Hurt and Confused

Dear Hurt and Confused:

Your boss was not wrong to ask you about it, since apparently she had been contacted by IT about it. She would have been wrong to not at least talk to you about it if that was the case. The problem is that apparently IT didn’t have proof of anything and was just on a fishing expedition–or was just quoting what they had been told by your coworker.

Should you ask for documentation of this breach of security? That’s not your place to request it, because it isn’t your security that has been breached, it’s the company’s. But what you can ask for is an investigation of the matter so your name can be cleared. You can send the request to your manager or to IT or HR, according to which seems the most appropriate.You should be calm and courteous about it, but you can say that you feel hurt and upset over the accusation and you want to make sure everyone knows you did not use the computer of another employee for any reason. They may not agree to investigate it, but the fact that you asked would be a good thing.That brings us to your coworker. If you had a good relationship with her I doubt she would have accused you. So, that may have led to this anyway.

If you can do so, talk to her and tell her that you’re concerned and want her to know you didn’t use her computer and are asking for an investigation. You may at least find out upon what she based her remarks.Or, you may find out she didn’t accuse you. Perhaps IT said it had to be someone nearby. Or, perhaps IT had some evidence you don’t know about.

The bottom line is that your boss was correct to ask you, but you’ll be correct to ask that it not just stop there. Find a way to get this cleared up. If you can’t, you’ll have to put it behind you and move forward. It may be difficult at first. But, it could be your manager and others will feel badly about accusing you and will appreciate your positive reaction.You know your own situation, so you know how you will need to proceed with all of this. I think you’ll be glad you asked for a better resolution than just for it to fade away. Best wishes to you with it. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

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.