My question involves labor and employment law for the state of:
Hi there, I've worked for my company since 2001 and have had a spotless record the entire time as an IT Professional. I'm considered well-liked, respected, and hold my integrity above all things. This past Friday, June 11, 2012, I was on a paid vacation day and my supervisor called me. She left a message as I had missed the call. I called her back within minutes, and she proceeded to tell me that I was not to utilize my work laptop over the weekend (not even to power it on because "that would look very bad for you"), that I was not to set foot on the work campus unless as a customer, and that I'd be meeting with a computer forensics investigator and HR at 8:00a on Monday, June 11, 2012 (today). I'd asked her what was going on and she told me that, "All will be clear on Monday." I then mentioned that I couldn't imagine why I'd be involved in a meeting such as this. I'm an employee who give 200% of myself to the organization, often working very late into the evening and at home on projects. My supervisor then said, "People who do bad things have bad things happen to them. If you've not done anything, you have nothing to worry about, right?"
The meeting was completed this morning and in it I was accused of forging an e-mail. The HR individual stated that there was a 29-page forensics report that proved, blow by blow, everything that I did in creating this "forged" communication. I was shown the "original" message that was allegedly copied, then altered to form the new, "forged" message. This message was from April 25, 2012. It also was not a message containing any controversial material, nor did it create a negative impact on anyone aside from them saying they had not originally received it. In fact, I'd discovered on May 3, 2012, that the intended recipient had stated he didn't receive it, so I forwarded the message from my Sent folder.
Presented with the few pieces of paper I was allowed to look at, it looked as though the report might be correct, yet I know that I wrote that e-mail at the date and time indicated and did not do anything to tamper with it. The content was so unimportant, I can't even wrap my head around why someone would think that message important enough to warrant such action. I've never done anything unscrupulous such as modify a message, but was made to feel as though the evidence was impervious to argument, and that I had to confess to doing something I did not do if I wanted to keep my job. So I indicated that it would have been possible for me to have done what I was accused of. The investigator told me that she was taken aback by the fact that I was "so calm" during the interview. I'd been calm because I'd known that I'd done nothing wrong, but she called me a "liar" and said that I had broken a cardinal value of trust for someone in my field.
The bottom line is that my employer believes without a doubt that I am guilty of this offense and I don't know what to do. The forensics report looks so genuine, I would have believed it had it not been about me. I'm scared because this is my livelihood, and I have nowhere to go. I'm currently on Administrative Leave with pay, and don't know whether that means I'm going to be terminated after a decision is reached or not.
My supervisor has been awful to me for nearly 4 years, threatening my job with underhanded comments ("Are you getting a tax return this year? If so, you'd be a fool to part with it." "If you repeat what I say, I will look you dead in the eye and deny it."), and I truly believe that she has had something to do with this. I'm currently the only one working on widespread projects for my place of work and, if I'm not present, it will be of serious detriment to the business. And I love the work I do. My job has been such a source of satisfaction for me over the years, aside from my awful supervisor.
My questions (sorry this is so very long): Was it ok for my supervisor to contact me with such information (sounding as though I'm being terminated) on my vacation day, given that I'm a salaried/exempt employee (no union, unfortunately)? And in your experience, since they truly believe I forged an email when I did not, and the forensics report seemingly supports that accusation, is there a chance that this will not lead to termination? Finally, I have 475.32 hours of vacation time in my vacation bank. If this is included in a lump-sum on a final paycheck, will taxes take a huge toll? If I'm terminated, I'll need every penny I can get, so what could I do to ensure that taxes don't decimate my last income?
I thank you, in advance, for your time and quick responses! I'd been told that a determination will be made within 1-3 business days, so my stomach is in knots and I don't know what to do.