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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    2

    Default Theft or Non-Return of Personal Property by Employer

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: Florida

    My situation is one that I cannot find an answer to...I was terminated by my employer. I am not disputing the termination as wrongful, I completely understand the reason behind it. Our internet policy allows for personal use of the computer in the workplace as long as it is not overly abused, etc. and we are not allowed to download programs or music (I actually wrote the policy). I had a lot of personal files on my work computer, everything from pictures to letters to my attorney, my personal budget, logins, passwords and links to my personal financial accounts, etc. I have a portable USB that I bring in and use all day to listen to my music. I recently started to suspect an upcoming layoff and decided I should probably remove all of my personal files so I decided to put them on my portable USB so I could still have access to them while at work. Not realizing at the time (I was in a rush and distracted) instead of going file by file in "MY DOCUMENTS" and moving each individual file over I quickly moved the entire Folder to my USB. Well, all of my personal files went, along with some company files. It was unintentional, but I fully understand the liability and why I was terminated for this. I have no problem with that. However, the USB itself is mine, I paid for it. All of my personal files on it (many are very sensitive financial documents). I asked my employer to either transfer the company files off of my USB and return it along with my personal files back to me or even to transfer my personal files to another USB or burn them to a CD and return that to me. My employer has refused and says they are keeping my USB along with all of my personal files and information. I could care less about the pictures, jokes, etc. What I do care about is all of my financial information, logins and passwords, correspondence with my attorney and my CPA, credit card account numbers, social security # of family members, etc.

    Do I have any recourse in getting my personal files and/or my USB back?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    2,360

    Default Re: Theft or Non Return of Personal Property by Employer

    I wouldn't count on it. Once you put something on the company's computer, it belongs to the company. Why should they do extra work to get your personal items off a system that they never should have been on in the first place?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Theft or Non Return of Personal Property by Employer

    The information is not on their network, system or work computer. The information is on my portable USB, that I bought and own. The problem lies in that I inadvertantly moved some of their files to my personal USB and now they will not return my USB, nor my personal files. I do not care how they handle the work files that are now on there (whether they delete them, copy them, transfer them, etc.) because those clearly belong to the company. It was my fault that I accidentally transferred some work files to my portable USB. I only want my files and my USB back.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    2,360

    Default Re: Theft or Non Return of Personal Property by Employer

    The problem lies in that I inadvertantly moved some of their files to my personal USB
    Yes, that is EXACTLY the problem. I guess you could try filing a police report, but I wouldn't be optimistic. This kind of stuff is not exactly a high priority on law enforcement's list.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    74,145

    Default Re: Theft or Non Return of Personal Property by Employer

    Your files are mixed in with theirs. They're under no obligation to try to sort them, and they're not going to trust you to sort them. I wouldn't be surprised, either, if the policy you wrote makes those files the property of your employer by virtue of your placing them on your employer's computer system. So it's my expectation that those files aren't coming back. They may also be concerned about whether they can fully "wipe" the USB drive, or why they should invest the time and money to do so, in order to ensure that their files cannot be recovered if they return the physical drive to you.

    They may view the USB as evidence of grounds for your termination for cause, or possibly even as evidence of criminal activity.

    If it were me, I would accept that my small investment in a USB drive was lost to the ages, rather than pushing things with an employer who caught me, by all appearances and by their interpretation, trying to steal company files. But, you know, there's always small claims court.

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