Magazine article Information Management

N.J. Court: Taking Employer Records Okay, Sometimes

Magazine article Information Management

N.J. Court: Taking Employer Records Okay, Sometimes

Article excerpt

It's okay for an employee to take an employer's records if the employee does so to preserve evidence, the New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled.

In a workplace discrimination case, the New Jersey Supreme Court determined that an employee's taking, copying, and using an employer's confidential records are protected activities.

In Quinlan v. Curtiss-Wright Corp., the court had to balance an employee's right under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) to not suffer retaliation for speaking up about discrimination against an employer's right to protect its confidential information. The court determined that, in certain circumstances, taking and using an organization's records are protected. Joyce Quinlan, a 20-year employee of Curtiss-Wright, sued the organization for gender discrimination when she believed she was passed over for a promotion because of her gender. A man she viewed as less qualified was pro-rooted instead. To support her claims, she collected more than 1,800 documents from the organization, some of which included the private information of other employees, including salary records and Social Security numbers.

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While her lawsuit was pending, the organization discovered she had copied the documents and given them to her lawyer for use during a hearing on the case. The organization subsequently fired Quinlan for alleged theft of its property. She amended her complaint to include a claim for retaliation.

The trial court ruled that Quinlan's taking the records was not protected, but the lawyer's use of the documents in a deposition was. …

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