What is considered property of the place where I work?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What is considered property of the place where I work?

I work in a county government office and was keeping a personal journal in a personal notepad not govt prop in reference to some problems with co-workers and some problems with training issues I have experienced for my own reference. I was told by the boss that the notebook could be taken as property of the office in which I work and that I should not be doing that on employment time. I am now being told that this is creating a hostile work environment with my co-workers who ‘all know’ I am keeping it when I had only let my boss know that I was keeping it. What is right?

Asked on August 15, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you bought the notepad yourself, it is not your workplace's property--it is yours, and they can't take it from you. However, your employer does have the legal right to tell you to not keep notes about work--especially if you do so at work. That is within their authority to set the terms and conditions of your employment, and they could (subject to civil service rules, if any, applicable to your job, or to any written employment contract you may have) take action against you for doing this, up to and including termination. In the absence of civil service rules or an unexpired written employment contract (including a union agreement) for a definite term (e.g. a one-year or five-year contract), the employer sets all the rules and conditions for work.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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