I'm in a bit of an ethical quandary.
I'm attempting to study for a professional certification exam that my employer is paying for, and I asked a coworker who happens to be part of the board responsible for maintaining the exam if he had any study materials I can use. In his response, I got 11 emails from him, such as previous versions of the exam, but also including the actual current exam and exam answers. None of that is public information, and when asked via text he replied "please don't tell anyone, I could get in serious trouble."
I reported this situation to my director, who mentioned that he would talk with this coworker, and the director told me to delete the emails in question. Most of the emails I have from him are unread, and I definitely don't want to use the actual test for studying, but I feel uneasy deleting these emails altogether as it feels like destroying part of the record.
Part of what complicates this situation is that company money is paying for this exam, and if I don't take or pass the exam this year I could be made to pay back the money as I didn't fulfill my "professional goal" for the year.
Couple of questions here:
- Should I actually delete these emails?
- Should I contact the certification agency myself over this?
- Should I contact HR directly with this issue?
EDIT: People seem to be assuming that I was complicit in cheating here. Rest assured, my question to the coworker was for study materials, not the exam itself. It's very similar to asking the professor of a class the concepts you should study for an exam. You wouldn't then expect to receive the exam itself. As soon as I realized what I had received and confirmed that it was the actual exam, I immediately reported it to my director.