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I handed in my resignation letter due to being ill after getting knocked down by a car. I received two messages from two of my work colleagues stating that my manager had read out my resignation letter to the rest of my work shift, around 15-20 people.

The resignation letter is confidential in itself, however my resignation letter contained some information about my health and the incident that occurred for me to stop working, clearly my manager has breached my confidentiality, what should I do and how should I go about it?

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    Get documented evidence that this was done, then consult a lawyer. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Jun 13 '16 at 12:15
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    Do you have any evidence that this was malicious rather than just bad judgement in not asking you first? Personally, I don't think this sounds like it's worth pursuing since you are on your way out; otherwise your first step would be to talk to the manager, then if you aren't satisfied to talk to HR. – keshlam Jun 13 '16 at 12:17
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    What is your desired outcome? What would you try to achieve? – Hilmar Jun 13 '16 at 12:52
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    That's why there is the general advice that your resignation letter should just say "I resign, and my last working day will be ..." and maybe "it was a great pleasure to work with all of you" if you feel generous. – gnasher729 Jun 13 '16 at 13:10
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    There's also the matter that being knocked down by a car and not being able to work is not a reason to resign. Quite the contrary, it is a reason to stay employed and get as much money from your employer as possible while you recover. – gnasher729 Jun 13 '16 at 13:12
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Document this as good as you can (for future reference if needed) and then let it go.

Regardless of whether this is illegal or not, there is no positive outcome that I can see.

  1. You could spend time and money on a lawyer. And then sue the company for damages? This is very unlikely to be successful and can severely damage any prospect for future employment at that company or any other place who learns about this
  2. You could make a stink and demand a letter of apology. You can frame this and hang it in the bathroom if it makes you feel any better, but it's not going to undo the damage and both HR and your past boss will hate you forever for making them jump through extra hoops.
  3. Is there anything else you can think of? What else would you want to happen? What exactly do you want them to do?

If confidentially is a real concern, try to stay constructive: You can write a message to the people who know, let them know that this was disclosed in error, and ask them politely to keep this to themselves. The more you stir this up, the more attention it will get

  • For future readers who are not familiar: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect – puzzlepiece87 Jun 13 '16 at 14:28
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    "What exactly do you want them to do?" - I think that is the important question here. – WorkerDrone Jun 13 '16 at 15:49
  • As commented below... many people experience a sense of justice or moral duty. They don't like letting other people get away with malicious, even criminal, actions taking against oneself, especially if that person may continue harming others in the exact same way. Your answer is right in that the OP should weigh that against possible harm to self, but it really isn't hard to see why someone might pursue this situation. – user42272 Jun 13 '16 at 16:25
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    @djechlin - talk of vengeance (or justice or moral duty) is cheap. You need to decide what this quest is worth to you in terms of time and money. Sometimes it's best just to way away angry. – WorkerDrone Jun 13 '16 at 16:31
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    @WorkerDrone agreed that sometimes it's best just to walk away angry. Disagree that the only things that matter in life are "time" and "money." That's a personal choice and the OP's to make. I'm glad these answers are informing the OP this will cost time and money. I'm not glad that everyone is playing dumb and acting like humans don't care about being treated right when wronged. I'm very glad some people do care, it makes life easier for the rest of us. – user42272 Jun 13 '16 at 16:35
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We can't give legal advice here, and a lot of what you can do depends on the laws of your country.

First off, reading a resignation letter out loud is a horrible breach of trust, and you should absolutely report this incident to HR of the company you resigned from (Make sure to get as much documentation of this IN WRITING before doing that!). If HR isn't cooperative or doesn't see this as a big deal, you should go straight to discussing this issue with a lawyer. In many countrys publishing sensitive information obtained in an assumed-to-be-confidential manner is ridiculously illegal. A lawyer can advise you on this.

If the HR department is cooperative you still might want to consult a lawyer, or try to resolve the situation with them amicably.

In conclusion, this is definitely not okay.

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    This disclosure is definitely not okay, but what positive outcome could possible come from talking to a lawyer? What would you expect a lawyer to do ? – Hilmar Jun 13 '16 at 13:06
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    What about the colleagues which told him this? If you document their messages and sent them to HR (without asking them), they can get in trouble with the manager or company. If you dont name the source, you dont have a reliable document, you have no proof at all. And I dont think it will be ok for the colleagues to be mentioned in that process, at least that would be how I fould feel about it if I wanted to stay at the company. – kl78 Jun 13 '16 at 13:13
  • @kl78 To be honest in most companies in my country that manager would face a PII abuse criminal charge and immediate termination. At that point I don't think anyone may have to fear his retribution or ill will. – Magisch Jun 13 '16 at 13:14
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    @Magisch: that maybe the case, but if the manager is fired: what good does this the OP? In most countries it's a real downside being associated with a legal action that got your previous boss fired. – Hilmar Jun 13 '16 at 14:40
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    @djechlin : If this would involve fraud, stealing, safety issues, heath threats or strong discrimination, I'd be totally with you. But a stupid but probably not malicious breach in confidentiality doesn't make the cut line for me. Not even close. – Hilmar Jun 13 '16 at 20:42
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What's your objective? The letter can't be unread. Yes, it was a breach of confidentiality, but in two weeks everyone (except yourself) will have forgotten about it - unless you get an attorney involved.

Move on, recover from the accident and restart your career.

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    termination of the asshole manager who goes through life treating employees like that might be nice. – user42272 Jun 13 '16 at 15:39
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You need to talk to a lawyer before any interaction with your company. Anything you say to their HR, your former boss, etc. can and will be used against you, should the situation escalate legally. If you email your former HR you may make exactly the slip of tongue needed to take your old boss entirely off the hook.

Consulting with a lawyer is safe. You do not need to sue or serve them papers of any kind and lawyers do not just randomly do this without your asking them to. If your lawyer is pushy then find a better one.

Your city or country may offer other legal resources but I'm not an expert here. Maybe someone can post an answer filling out the kind of regional resources usually available.

You have the option of just letting this go as any action you take will have consequences on your career. Even consulting with a lawyer costs money. Maybe they won't be bad consequences but you still should not be reckless.

I'm not sure whether there is any material upside for you. If a lawyer wants to sue for damages treat that as a doctor telling you you need surgery: it's a serious operation, with lots of risk, can drag on and on and be costly, and you probably want a second opinion. If you just want justice then you may have better options, but you are of course solidifying your former boss as an enemy instead of merely as a bully who doesn't otherwise care about you that much.

I understand that justice may be important to you and I'm glad some people pursue it, even when it can probably only hurt them. In this case, consulting with a lawyer or regional resources is step #1. That's your decision.

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