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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 48168
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Is it illegal if my line manager alters an email from a third

Resolved Question:

Is it illegal if my line manager alters an email from a third party by inserting information in order to discredit me, and then forwards it on to my employer and others (and if it isn't illegal does it contravene any legislation)?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

-Could you explain your situation a little more?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I am a deputy headteacher in a london school. and I have come to realize that the new headteacher is trying to undermine my position. There have been a number of issues, however the most worrying that came to light recently is the following.

An email was sent to the head teacher complaining about an incident that had nothing to do with me and as such I wasn't referred to in that original e mail. However when the HT responded to the author of the complaint she inadvertently had the altered e mail below.

I was alerted by the author when she copied me in to her response to the HT; saying that she was now very concerned as her original email had been tampered with, and additional information added that she did not write. I was then able to see that I my name had been added as part of the altered email and it implied that I had ignored an issue that had been raised. This was clearly added maliciously to discredit me as it was forwarded on to a member of the school's Governing Body.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. Please leave this with me, I am mobile for most of today so it may be difficult to provide a full response straight away but I will get my advice ready and get back to you on here as soon as I can, certainly no later than tomorrow morning. Thanks for your patience.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Many thanks for your patience. just before I finalise my response can you please confirm how long you have worked there for?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Ben I have been a deputy head at the school for 27 years and worked with the two previous head teachers without any issues. I have never been the subject of disciplinary or capability. The falsification of the e mail is one of several several incidents where the HT has tried to undermine/discredit me.so I was wondering if falls under the misuse of computers act or is fraudulent as I am taking out a grievance against the head teacher .
Many thanks for your help.
Ana McDonagh
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hi Ana, it is unlikely that this will fall under the Computer Misuse Act 1990, which makes certain offences in relation to computer misuse a criminal act. This is because the legislation mainly deals with the unauthorised access of computers and the manipulation of programs, rather than the issues that occurred here. We are talking about people accessing the computers unlawfully in the first place, here the employer likely had the authority to access them. It is also unlikely that the police, which deal with such offences, would take this any further.
Saying that, this is really a breach of trust and confidence issue which is dealt with under employment legislation. This could in turn potentially amount to constructive dismissal, which occurs when the following two elements are present:
• Serious breach of contract by the employer; and
• An acceptance of that breach by the employee, who in turn treats the contract of employment as at an end. The employee must act in response to the breach and must not delay any action too long.
A common breach by the employer occurs when it, or its employees, have broken the implied contractual term of trust and confidence. The conduct relied on could be a single act, or a series of less serious acts over a period of time, which together could be treated as serious enough (usually culminating in the 'last straw' scenario).
The affected employee would initially be expected to raise a formal grievance in order to officially bring their concerns to the employer's attention and give them an opportunity to try and resolve them. If the issues are so bad that the employee can't even face raising a grievance and going through the process, or if a grievance has been raised but has been unsuccessful, then they can consider resigning straight away.
If resignation appears to be the only option, it must be done without unreasonable delay so as not to give an impression that the employer's breach had been accepted. Any resignation would normally be with immediate effect and without providing any notice period. It is advisable to resign in writing, stating the reasons for the resignation and that this is being treated as constructive dismissal.
Following the resignation, the option of pursuing a claim for constructive dismissal exists. This is only available to employees who have at least 2 years' continuous service. There is a time limit of 3 months from the date of resignation to submit a claim in the employment tribunal.
An alternative way out is to approach the employer on a 'without prejudice' basis (i.e. off the record) to try and discuss the possibility of leaving under a settlement agreement. Under a settlement agreement, the employee gets compensated for leaving the company and in return promises not to make any claims against the employer in the future. It is essentially a clean break, although the employer does not have to agree to it so it will be subject to negotiation. In any event, there is nothing to lose by raising this possibility with them because you cannot be treated detrimentally for suggesting it and it would not be used against you.
Just to make a final, yet important point, that constructive dismissal can be a difficult claim to win as the burden of proof is entirely on the employee to show the required elements of a claim were present. Therefore, it should only be used as a last resort.
I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Ben Jones and 3 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks Ben,

If I need to negotiate a settlement, or as a last resort claim constructive dismissal would it affect my pension?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
No, your pension would not be affected, this is entirely separate. Hope this clarifies?