Is it illegal to copy company files to prove I didn’t steal any money?

UPDATED: Dec 6, 2011

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Is it illegal to copy company files to prove I didn’t steal any money?

I made copies of spreadsheets that I saved on the company computer, I made a back up copy for my records to make sure I could not be blamed for any money that the owner said was missing.

Asked on December 6, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It most likely is illegal. The files belong to the company; you are not allowed to copy, remove, or use them for  your own benefit, even to try to establish that you did not steal. (Note: if there is a lawsuit or legal proceeding against you, there are legal mechanisms--e.g. "discovery"--to lawfully gain access to the information and documentation.) Therefore, what you have done is most likely illegal; also if you signed any confidentiality agreement(s) re: company information, their terms are enforceable, too.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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