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My boss has instructed a co-worker to edit some papers with Photoshop to add information that is not true (and maybe use it later on court).

He is concerned that making these edits would cause him some legal trouble.
I'll have to check with lawyers to see if he could have any consequences from knowingly taking part in this falsification.

If my friend just isn't comfortable with this task, or finds out it truly would be illegal to do so, how can my friend address this issue with his boss in such a way that conveys he has real concerns rather than just trying to avoid having to do the work?

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    You might want to ask an actual lawyer about this. – user11026 Mar 31 '14 at 9:37
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    Is this not off topic? – Marriott81 Mar 31 '14 at 10:47
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    @Marriott81 I'm not asking whether is legal or not, but rather how to handle that with the boss. Thanks for your comment. – Worker Mar 31 '14 at 10:54
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    It actually is a legal question. Technically, they should be perfectly capable to reject that request, given they are able to communicate. Can they reject a direct request, though? That has only legal implications. Consequences if they were found out would also be purely legal. – CMW Mar 31 '14 at 11:00
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    @CMW consequences of rejecting the task is not purely legal, as the way you handle it will make the difference between a nice job environment and a bad one (implying he doesn't get fired for rejecting it). – Worker Mar 31 '14 at 11:27
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Warning: I'm not a lawyer

The fact that your boss asked a co-worker, instead of doing it himself, shows his real motives. The person who fudges the documents is the one who gets the blame (and possible prosecution). If you look at these big banks and their scandals, you often hear about how "shocked" the senior managers were that fraud was happening right beneath them. They can claim that because there are no official records that put any blame on them. Some low level trader gets all the blame and is fired.

This is a dangerous issue with no real solution. Your friend should ask his boss to confirm what he wants to do in writing. If the boss refuses, your friend should send an email anyway, saying something like:

Dear boss, can you confirm by email that you want me to photoshop and modify contract XX? PS- Can you also confirm this is legal?

CC HR and anyone else involved.

He should then print the email and keep a copy, as it might be used in a court. Remember, the boss will deny everything. Always assume that the thing will end up in court, and everyone connected to the case will be treated with suspicion. So keep all records, don't agree to anything, even verbally, and be sure to update your resume in case it gets ugly.

  • He already have an e-mail from the boss with this request. Would that be sufficient? – Worker Mar 31 '14 at 10:15
  • @Worker Depends on what the email says. Ask your colleague to reply with something like "Dear boss, I am worried this might be illegal. Can you please get the company legal advisor to confirm this is ok?" If the company doesn't have a legal advisor, ask the company to hire one, as it's their business – Shantnu Tiwari Mar 31 '14 at 10:17
  • How can a printed e-mail be used in court? Anyone can write a text document and print it. – Val Mar 31 '14 at 15:14
  • @vsz: usually opposing counsel submits a request for all email records as part of the process. The company would have to produce the emails that are in their system. So, it's not just what one person prints. It's what the email server gives up. Bearing in mind that it's possible to determine that things have been deleted.. – NotMe Mar 31 '14 at 16:16
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    @Worker, the tale is getting messier by the minute. I suggest you seek professional advice – Shantnu Tiwari Apr 2 '14 at 8:04

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