My friend Bob was using the company's computer to download movies. He got caught 3 months ago, taken under disciplinary procedure and asked "Are you downloading files by using p2p software?" Bob denied it, although he knows he got caught because they mentioned the name of the software specifically.

Now, 3 months later, things between Bob and the management got ugly. And the HR called for another disciplinary procedure, and said "We recently(!) found out that you were using p2p programs at work. And we decided to fire you because of Gross Misconduct."

Are the companies allowed to hold the evidence for rainy days just like in this example? Are there any day limitations for them to use it after they find out?

Note: It's an EU country.

  • 1
    I'm guessing that the HR process being used here is company or industry specific. I'm not sure this question is answerable here.
    – user44108
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 14:50
  • 2
    VTC This is a legal and/or policy issue which we are not suited to address Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 15:00
  • The hint here is, the first thing he (HR manager) said was "I am not familiar with the technical stuff but these files has been recently recovered from your folders". Giving this complete irrelevant information gives him away.
    – StukaPilot
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 15:02
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    Given Bob's original denial, the employer might have taken the time to get an expert to examine the evidence. Do you think they should have fired Bob immediately, despite his denial, without doing that? Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 15:45
  • @Patricia Shanahan Thats good and logical answer, but lets say for the story's sake Bob knows that that's not the case and there is nothing to examine.
    – StukaPilot
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 15:50

1 Answer 1


Typically there is a section in the employee handbook that discusses the use of company resources for personal use. Furthermore, the company typically requires you to sign an acknowledgement of understanding regarding the contents of the employee handbook.

If this is indeed the cases, then yes the company can let Bob go. I am not certain if there is a number of days limitation -- that may be more of a legal question.

Also something to consider, the company may have been doing its due diligence to see if they were in their rights to remove Bob -- explaining any delay.

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    Without knowing the specifics, I'd guess that the HR department were following the process. "Bob" got a warning for the first problem and placed on probation. Things didn't improve, so termination is the next logical step.
    – user44108
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 14:49
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    Thanks @Mister Positive, they definitely have the right to do that. The unknown fact, is until when? I am completely sure that they dont wait 3 months to research the status.
    – StukaPilot
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 14:53
  • You would be surprised. In the USA at least, these events are very situational. I have seen it take over a year for an HR \ Management team to act on a termination. I have also seen it happen immediately.
    – Neo
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 14:54
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    I would at least enquire about this legally. A very short google has links that say there is a limit of 1 month for an employer to fire someone for gross misconduct, although the offence can be taken into account in addition to another breach(this is from a UK legal website). Nobody here is a lawyer but if I was Bob I would at least investigate if I have legal recourse.
    – Dustybin80
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 15:05
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    @Dustybin80, are we suggesting Bob should sue because they didn't fire him fast enough? Sounds more like they did due diligence and gave him a limited second chance. He's lucky he got paid for three months when he should have been looking for a job.
    – cdkMoose
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 20:58

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