I work as a contractor at a Fortune 500 company, and a few days ago an employee filed a complaint against my direct boss.

Asset Protection starts interviewing people and I'm one of the people being interviewed. They confirm that it’s completely confidential. Of course, I answer their questions truthfully.

Some background: my direct boss has complete control of my contract. So if he decides to cancel my contract he can do so without reason and I'd be unemployed.

To make things worse, I've worked with him over 10 years and I'm the only one he talks to. He considers me his “friend”. On the other hand, I consider him a bully, but I put up with it because I know he's capable of ending my contract without giving it a 2nd thought.

And I know that once he knows that people are being interviewed, he'll ask me about it because I'm his “friend”. If I tell him that it's confidential, I'm almost certain he’ll end my contract. If I tell him more or less what I told them, and he doesn't like it (even though it's the truth), he'll end my contract.

My question: can I retract what I told asset protection even though I signed it?

  • 2
    Why do you think that meeting was not confidential? – Solar Mike Dec 3 '19 at 17:42
  • Don't understand. What meeting? – Charles Dec 3 '19 at 17:55
  • That meeting where you answered the questions truthfully... Or is this just a pipe dream? – Solar Mike Dec 3 '19 at 18:01
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    Can you list your location? In the US, you may be covered by laws pertaining to whistleblower protection. I would imagine there are similar laws elsewhere. – dwizum Dec 3 '19 at 18:41
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    @dwizum This is not "whistleblower", this is much stronger. A "whistleblower" usually tells about wrongdoing at the company, which the company obviously doesn't like. Here the company itself is investigating theft, probably a serious theft, so OP is helping the company which most likely will be appreciated. – gnasher729 Dec 3 '19 at 19:29

I believe you overestimate the ability of your boss to arbitrarily end your contact. Under normal circumstances it might look like he is able to, but even then he is going to have to justify to his own bosses why he is firing a competent worker. If circumstances were normal he could probably make something up to justify it which would be accepted. But in the case where he is under investigation, and the fired worker is one of the people involved in the case, no HR department and no senior manager is going to allow that to happen.

If you are concerned, go and talk to HR (or AssetProtection or whatever you are calling them). Explain your fears, and ask what they can do about it. I'm pretty certain that they can offer you protection at least until the investigation is completed.

In terms of your response when your boss talks to you, hold the line on the confidentiality. Say "I'm sorry, but I was told very clearly that I can't discuss the interview with you. I could be fired if I did.". You might consider (and I pretty much never recommend this) telling a small vague lie along the lines of "I didn't tell them anything that would hurt you." It's unlikely that he will find out what you really said in a confidential interview about him, so you are pretty safe. But just holding the line on "I can't discuss it" is probably best.

To answer your actual question, you should definitely not try to retract what you said at the interview. Doing that is going to seriously hurt your credibility, both with the organization and your colleagues, and also enables a person who by your own admission is a bully to continue bullying. Do the right thing now and be rid of this person, so you can work in peace without having a threat of arbitrary retaliation hanging over your head, and those of your co-workers, for the forseeable future.

Incidentally there is a contradiction in your account. You say "He considers me his friend." but "he's capable of ending my contract without giving it a 2nd thought" and "If I tell him that it's confidential, I'm almost certain he’ll end my contract.". That means he considers you a useful ally in his campaign of bullying, not his friend. Do not be his ally.

  • He’s a bully but He’s not being investigated for bullying. – Charles Dec 3 '19 at 22:02
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    That doesn't really make a difference. – DJClayworth Dec 3 '19 at 22:26
  • By “retract” I meant tearing up the contract as if I had never been inteviewed. – Charles Dec 4 '19 at 17:43
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    That does not change my answer. And you may not be able to simply "undo" you statements. At the very least AP is going to want to know why you changed your mind. – DJClayworth Dec 4 '19 at 18:04

"Confidentiality" in the workplace doesn't mean anything unless it is defined in a contract such as an NDA or has the backing of a law to enforce it. In this particular instance, HR may have a policy that such investigations are confidential and you'll be punished for revealing the nature of such discussions, but that doesn't mean much if you risk being fired by your boss for not disclosing what you discussed.

If your boss is the subject of the investigation and begins asking you questions pertaining to the investigation, contact Asset Protection and/or HR and let them know you're being put in a weird position due to the investigation and ask how to move forward.

You can ask to retract your interview, and they'll likely tell you no. They have no reason to "forget" the information you already willingly provided them because you later regretted doing so.

  • Nothing's happened yet, and I'm almost positive that he doesnt know yet that he's being investigated. HR also told me that if he started asking me, that I should go to them about it. That's all clear to me. – Charles Dec 3 '19 at 18:03
  • The problem is that if I complain to HR then that means that my boss already knows that his “friend” (me) refused to tell him anything. What’ll stop him, especially at the end of the year, from cancelling my contract next month? – Charles Dec 3 '19 at 18:06
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    Fortune 500 probably means USA. If Asset Protection is involved, and a person who is under investigation tries to fire a witness, that would be an admission of guilt. Asset Protection will probably decide that you are the bigger asset and protect you. So what stops him? Asset protection, HR, his boss. – gnasher729 Dec 3 '19 at 19:16
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    @gnasher729 Your statement is blatantly incorrect. – JRodge01 Dec 4 '19 at 14:43
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    @DJClayworth Retaliatory firing for an employee that reported an illegal act is the only thing that is punishable by law in the US. An internal investigation being performed by a company does not confer any legal protections onto an employee. – JRodge01 Dec 4 '19 at 18:17

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