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OP asks if his wife can get fired for looking up co-workers' personal info at work.

OP asks if his wife can get fired for looking up co-workers' personal info at work.


'Can my wife get fired for this?'

My wife works in the HR department of a university. She confessed to me today that, using her work computer, she checked the school’s database to see what some of the salaries of her co-worker’s are, including her boss’.

She was not authorized to do this. She can look up other employee salaries only if she gets a legitimate request from a third party that needs to verify income of a school employee.

Her boss found out from the IT department that my wife’s user name and pass was connected with the unauthorized searches. He called her to a meeting and asked my wife if she did this. He said she wouldn’t be fired. Right away she got very nervous and denied it.

She looked up the salaries to see if she was getting paid fairly in comparison to others, and also out of curiosity. She admits what she did was wrong and has been feeling horrible. I am very upset with her as well. This wasn’t the smartest thing to do from a work computer.

Now our main worry is that she loses a job with good benefits which allows her to work remotely two days a week. What are the chances of her being fired? Can she do anything proactively now to minimize risk? Should she just confess and apologize? Maybe she could say, regarding her initial denial, that she was just afraid and in unprepared for the discussion?

Also, just before this she got a five star review from her boss (just before he found out).

Thanks! Joe

Top comments

Developer here. Her footprint can easily be logged on those applications so denying it is useless since they can pull back those information easily. I think her biggest issue is that she lied about it than actually looking up the info. I would just confess.

'Hey boss. Look, when I was put on the spot I heard 'terminated' and I panicked. I lied. In a moment of immaturity I looked up some salaries. I know I lost your trust today, but I will work my hardest to try and regain it. Hope you can forgive me for this momentary lapse of judgment.'

100% terminable. Not only did she abuse her power, but then proceeded to lie about it when she was caught red handed even after she was told she wouldn't be fired. If I were in the boss's position I wouldn't fire her for the act. Not outright. Not with having just given her high marks.

But the act followed by a blatant lie when presented with incontrovertible evidence to the contrary? Yea...shed be gone. Better tell her to fess up, quick.


About a month ago, her manager had to call her into his office since IT had noticed she had checked some co-workers’ salaries using her computer which she was not authorized to do. Out of nervousness she initially denied it, but then the next day, thanks to the excellent advice of many people here in r/jobs, she came clean and got to keep her job.

The manager thanked her for coming forward and for saving him the time of having to further investigate.

Last week, however, a woman who my wife works with was promoted, and the manager told my wife that she now needs to take on all of the co-worker’s old duties and, in addition, that she needs to continue being responsible for the work that my wife has been doing up until now.

In addition to that, he told my wife that she can no longer have two remote days per week, but can only have one. The other ten or so employees in her department all get two remote days, and this was one of the reasons my wife wanted the job in the first place.

The ability to work remote that extra day is very helpful for her rest (since she can get up later because of not needing to drive to work) and her ability to be able to make sure my daughter gets to school. My daughter has ongoing medical treatment so changes in our lifestyle like this, which add stress, can potentially have a significant impact.

The third change her manager made was to require her to come to work a half hour earlier each day which also of-course affects her ability to get rest (her overall work hours are the same since she can leave a half hour earlier, but she’d prefer to come later). Finally, he moved her working space to a less desirable area in the corner.

Should she have a discussion with her manager about this? If so, how can she do it tactfully and what should she say? Could this be punishment for the checking other peoples’ salaries incident? I don’t want her to sound ungrateful for being able to keep her job, but also don’t want her to be subjected to something she doesn’t have to be.

Can she ask him, for example, if this is all temporary? Can she ask for a raise in light of this? Should she even agree to all this?


Top Comments:

It sounds like they're trying to make her quit tbh

It’s abundantly clear that they want her out. There wasn’t enough evidence to fire her perhaps, so now they want to take corrective actions to make it as undesirable as possible. She needs to leave once a new job is lined up ASAP.

Why would you risk it all for such a stupid thing?! It gets even worse the more you read, so much of the family’s wellbeing is tied into that job - why would you jeopardise that?!

I work in a similar environment and avoid at all costs any requests involving famous people. Obviously I will do my job, but I don’t even want the appearance of inappropriate behavior and clearly document why I access -anyone’s- protected information.

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