Can employee be forced to snitch?

We have had a payroll breach, which was disclosed during a yearly review. This employee (with MS if it matters)knows who obtained the information, but not how. We want to force her to tell us who obtained the information so we can plug the hole, and make certain it happens no more.
Can we force her (threaten with job or whatever)?


  • 14 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Some employers terminate employees who 'impede an ongoing company investigation'. In a union setting you could not, but, otherwise, I've known it to happen a few times. I'd give her one more chance to 'cooperate in the investigation' and tell her that she will be terminated if she continues to impede the investigation. MS or no MS.
  • What was the "payroll breach"?
  • junebug, that's my question too. It could be important. If it's about employees discussing pay, there may be less you can do than if it's a payroll person providing information.
  • More details would help. I would approach her again and if you have not already I would stress that her name would not be brought into any discussions with the perp. If you can obtain any information from her, you might be able to send the investigation down a path that is away from her and still get the results you need.
  • >More details would help. I would approach her
    >again and if you have not already I would stress
    >that her name would not be brought into any
    >discussions with the perp.

    I respectfully disagree with this avenue of thinking. Promising anonymity to a complainer or to a witness in any investigation will get you in a whole heap of trouble.

  • You cannot "force" her to do anything, but her lack of cooperation can have the consequences you suggest. She may be willing to live with those consequences rather than give up her friend.
  • You have to be careful because it all depends on context. You said the topic came up at a yearly review. If the two employees were discussing the salaries of other employees, that's protected activity.
  • No, if they were discussing their own salaries, that's protected. Discussing others' is not.
  • I'm sorry for dropping out after asking for your help, but this thing really exploded after my last login.
    Some employees had discovered a spot in the software that allowed them to view everyone's payroll information, including rates, deductions, "the works", and then passed that info on to others. Even those who did not know how to access it or did not participate in accessing the data, did not notify management of the hole in the software. The hole has now been repaired, but the damage is done. Culprits were named during the investigation, but it has turned into a "he said" "she said" with no clear outcome as of now.
    The beach was serious, but to me it is dishearteneing to discover employees not to be as loyal as I had thought. It looks like it's "us" against "them". I hate that.
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 09-26-05 AT 09:04AM (CST)[/font][br][br]It's also a question of who in the organization has the authority to view what screens. I'm sure you guys have looked at that angle. Hopefully it was restricted to the accounting group.

    If your investigation proves to the company's satisfaction that a particular employee(s) was involved in dissemination of the information, without a question, fire him/her/them. Nothing in the NLRA would protect that type of activity.

    Some will say 'look at your policy' or 'be guided by your policy'. I say even if you don't have policies, this is a firing offense. Period.
  • It appears that there was two types of disemination of information (1) the pay rates etc. (2) the hole in your software. Is there any way a computer expert could examine every computer and see which unauthorized people accessed the program? Remember, the computer belongs to the company and not the employees (and hopefully, you have a policy that makes that clear).
  • We do have a clause that provides for the termination of any ee that interferes or impedes an internal investigation.

    I don't know that we'd ever had to defend it...but I'm not sure I would like trying.

  • Thanks again to all who posted replies. The holes have now been patched, and the process has revealed a lacking policy manual. I will need to work on that. Again, I think the worst of it is knowing my trust has been abused by those who I thought were "company people".
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