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Have I done something illegal or just stupid??

(3 Posts)
highfive Wed 13-Jul-11 18:09:47

In brief - I set up my own business in addition to working part time (self employed basis) for another company (no conflict - different type of business). My own business was slow taking off so my lovely best friend who works in a similar, but different field, kindly gave me a list of 30 clients' contact details (emails) who she thought would be interested in my business. It turned out she was right and about 22 of them did purchase from me. However, one of the clients who I approached has complained directly to the MD of the company that I work for on a self employed basis because he believes that there was a data protection issue. In other words, he thinks that I used my contacts at my self employed job to get his details (which is NOT true - it's just coincidence that he is also on the client database for the company I work for - which I didn't know).

I've been asked to attend a meeting to explain how I got the details of this client but my friend did not, it turns out, get approval from her clients before giving me their details (but she didn't think that they would mind!). I do realise this is wrong - but I didn't even think about it at the time - far too thankful to be given the contacts. My friend is ADAMANT that she does not want her involvement to be known and I don't want to get her into trouble. It's a bit of a mess.............

My feeling is that I should just tell the truth in that I got given the list from a friend but that I refuse to give other details. I'm not sure what they can do about it other than take my word but I do feel bad. Any thoughts/advice much appreciated.

Grevling Wed 13-Jul-11 18:29:12

Just tell them you got them off industry contacts. Its called networking an not illegal. I use linked in for this all the time.

Bear in mind that your employer will have to prove you did something wrong just sending an e-mail to people doesn't put you as having stolen the info - though you are self employed so have less rights that employees. You need to check if you are actually self employed or a worker as there could be some differences.

Find out if the employers e-mail is in google. If it is just say its in the public domain and you googled him to find out who you could contact. I bet somewhere it will be in google.

pengelly Wed 13-Jul-11 19:59:14

Sorry to be bearer of bad news, but Grevlings advice is incorrect. If I understand your position correctly, all your employers need to demonstrate is that they have reasonable grounds (not proof) to believe you acted inappropriately - i.e. a breach of the trust they are reasonably entitled to expect from you as an employee. It would appear to me that you do have a case to answer. Your employers credibility has been put at risk with its own client through no fault of theirs, and they are being entirely reasonable to put this matter to you. Although you accepted the contact details from a friend, it could be considered negligent not to have checked there was no duplicate names and thereby put at risk your employers relationship with their client. Equally, to lie about it is likely not to satisfy them and will simply sour your own relationship. If the clients details are public it is still reasonable of your employer to expect you to ascertain due diligence before using them. Ultimately, your relationship with your employer is based upon trust, if you are uncomfortable with your circumstances (or indeed your friend as she has asked not to be named) may it suggest the trust has been broken?

Sorry and all that, but I represent these matters at Tribunal so speak from experience. Honesty and a sincere apology, with assurances there will be no repeat, is probably your best option. Best of luck anyway.

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