Employee Theft of Employer Documents—Protected Conduct in Opposition to Discrimination or Criminal Activity?

folderWhat happens to board of education employees who steal board documents to support a lawsuit against their employer?  In New Jersey, at least, they are criminally prosecuted.  In State V. Saavedra, Docket No. A-1449-12T4 (Dec. 24, 2013)(link), the New Jersey Appellate Division upheld the indictment of a North Bergen Board of Education [“Board”] employee who had stolen original Board documents containing confidential parent financial and student medical information.  In so doing, the Court concluded that the anti-retaliation protections afforded to employees in civil matters do not categorically insulate from criminal prosecution a public employee who steals employer documents.

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