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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    1

    Default Can Your Employer Withhold Your Personal Computer and Medications

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

    A state agency in investigating an unfounded Equal Opportunity complaint. By the way, it was filed by a third party, and the alleged victim not only says it didn't happen, but that I protect her from others. It just so happens, I'm a male, she's a partially-out lesbian, and my office is an lgbtq+ safe zone, so we sent a lot of time discussing her family issues re her orientation. She told them I'm a father figure to her (I'm so old).

    When that "victim" didn't work out, they added another one, who also said I hadn't done anything and was like a father figure.

    In the meantime, I've been locked out of my office and banned from any activity within the organization. They still have my personally owned computer, not used for employer activities (I use the organizational computer for that). But since I often worked up to 16 hours a day or longer, I kept my personal computer there for personal stuff. They also have medications, though I can replace those with some cost. They refuse to give me anything from my office, including the computer and meds. Do I have any legal recourse?

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    2,236

    Default Re: Seizure of Personal Computer and Medications (Among Other Things)

    Sure you can sue them. Though it might be easier or at least quicker to either write a demand letter for your property or better yet have a lawyer do so.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    16,217

    Default Re: Seizure of Personal Computer and Medications (Among Other Things)

    Quote Quoting Woodsman576
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    It just so happens, I'm a male, she's a partially-out lesbian, and my office is an lgbtq+ safe zone, so we sent a lot of time discussing her family issues re her orientation. She told them I'm a father figure to her (I'm so old).
    There's where you made your mistake. You have no business getting involved in your employees' personal lives, especially those of a sexual nature. Apparently your employer took serious issue with your behavior.

    Quote Quoting Woodsman576
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    In the meantime, I've been locked out of my office and banned from any activity within the organization. They still have my personally owned computer, not used for employer activities (I use the organizational computer for that). But since I often worked up to 16 hours a day or longer, I kept my personal computer there for personal stuff. They also have medications, though I can replace those with some cost. They refuse to give me anything from my office, including the computer and meds. Do I have any legal recourse?
    Had to read that twice to realize that it was your employer locking you out of your office (terminating your employment), not the state agency taking your stuff.

    Your legal recourse is, of course, a lawsuit for the return of your property or for its monetary value.

    I don't see you getting anywhere just writing a letter on your own. A lawyer can make one look very scary. Or you can just file suit in magistrate court.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    670

    Default Re: Seizure of Personal Computer and Medications (Among Other Things)

    Quote Quoting Woodsman576
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    A state agency in investigating an unfounded Equal Opportunity complaint. By the way, it was filed by a third party
    I assume "third party" means non-employee. If that's correct, what is this person's relationship to your business? Also, are you the owner of the business or simply a management person with the business?

    Quote Quoting Woodsman576
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    When that "victim" didn't work out, they added another one
    Who are "they," and what does "added" mean in this context? There are at least two other places in your post where you used the pronoun "they" without a clear antecedent.

    Quote Quoting Woodsman576
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    In the meantime, I've been locked out of my office and banned from any activity within the organization.
    Locked out and banned by whom?

    Quote Quoting Woodsman576
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    Do I have any legal recourse?
    Sure. Among other things, you can sue whomever it is that has taken possession of your personal property and seek an injunction requiring that whoever has your stuff release it to you.

    I agree that consulting with a local attorney would be a good idea.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    1,047

    Default Re: Seizure of Personal Computer and Medications (Among Other Things)

    was this "victim" a minor under the law? How many young employees are you "counseling" and what exactly are your job duties? Unless discussing family issues fall under those, your employer is in the right to suspend you while an investigation occurs and that can include your personal belongings that are on their property (Especially if you signed a policy that stated that anything you brought onto their property could be subject to a search and/or seizure)

    Even if the complaint is not found to be one that the EEOC wants to take up, they will give the complaintant a right to sue letter and then that person has to find an attorney to take a case and file a lawsuit against the employer. Your employer can often be held responsible for your actions, therefore it is in their best interests to STOP the behavior -- sometimes that means locking the employee out of their office and away from anything that they have left there.

    You can send a request to their HR/legal team with a list of personal belongings and see how they react.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    215

    Default Re: Seizure of Personal Computer and Medications (Among Other Things)

    Not the question but it is generally a bad idea to have personal items of value at work for any reason. While the employee cannot generally keep forever personal items, they generally can search and hold those items for a while. Computers (in the very broad sense of the word) are especially problematic since they can be used to access and remove company information. And it takes a long time for an expert to backtrack every thing the computer has ever done. Many employers just flat out ban personal computers at work for that reason (there are other reasons). I thought the other point about the risks of "mentoring" other employees when it was not part of your job description or apparently something you were asked to do. Your statements are setting of all sorts of warning flags to anyone who has worked HR.

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