Is Computer Tampering Harassment?: Ask the HR Guy 4/13/2001

Published: Mar 10, 2009

Topics: Workplace Issues       
Dear HR Guy,

Every time I leave town on business or vacation, I return to find my computer tampered with. I've been victim to everything from changing the date/time, messing up my calendar reminders, to wholesale file corruption leading to inopportune computer crashes. Whoever is doing it would seem to be very computer savvy. Is this harassment? Is there anyway to nab the culprit? Should I report this to my management for resolution? Or try to resolve it myself?



Dear Caroline:

The problems you are experiencing could be the result of a number of causes, not the least of which could be a malfunctioning computer. However, if these annoyances are truly the result of some nefarious tampering, they could constitute harassment. The question that needs to be answered is who or what is responsible?

It is probably best not to handle this on your own. Harassment is only one possible motive. The culprit might be breaking into your computer in order to steal files, perhaps even for a competitor. And if your computer is password protected, tampering with it is not just harassment; it's also an offense. Whatever the reason, your company has a real interest in getting to the bottom of this problem.

Your first stop should be the IT department. In this day and age, even if the guilty party is computer savvy, enough electronic fingerprints will be left for you to discover who is responsible. Once the tech people have helped you get to the bottom of the mystery, do not confront the offender yourself. Go to management with your evidence and let them handle it. Why make life more difficult for yourself by try to resolve this on your own?

Good luck!

HR Guy

Have a question for the HR Guy? E-mail him at!

" Inc. ("Vault") makes available the information and materials on this site (the "Materials") for informational purposes only. While we hope and believe the Materials will be helpful as a background matter, we cannot warrant that the Materials are accurate or complete. Moreover, the Materials are general in nature, and may not apply to particular factual or legal circumstances. In any event, the Materials do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Therefore, if you want legal advice, please consult a lawyer.