Private Investigations and Personal Security/Surveillance Backup Ownership
I have had ongoing issues with someone who is supposed to be under my supervision, but consistently undermines me because he is close to the owner. When I was hired I was given access to the security surveillance to monitor and record employees' behavior. Every area of recording has visible signs posted that there is audio & video surveillance. After several communications through text, email, and verbal discussions about his failure to follow direction, lack of follow-through, and being a negative influence to the employees, I began recording his behavior to present to the owner, hoping to resolve the situation.
After I addressed these issues with the owner, I backed-up another recording of his friend in the office directing verbal abuse toward me, along with his phone conversation with the owner, who stated that I would be the one terminated after they found my replacement. The next day, all access to video review was limited only to his friend, stating that I shouldn't have access to their personal conversations (even though it was on speaker phone & he stated that I would probably hear the call). After I informed the owner that I had witnessed the conversation, and had a back up on my DVD, the owner stated that I did not own the recording, (although he had no issue beforehand with me retaining videos of other employees' performance). I explained to the owner that the recording was only for professional use and offered it to him, but he told me to destroy it. I did not, hoping he would review it later, since his friend was creating a hostile work environment for me, as well as some employees. Afterward someone was hired over me who also did not resolve the issue after I presented it to him, but instead increased my workload to unreasonable expectations. The new supervisor also provided written counseling to me for being late after working a 15 hour shift with less than 5 hours until my following shift.
I cannot afford to lose my job, and have been trying to seek other opportunities, but am afraid that my time is almost up. I would like to delay my departure by presenting a "workplace violence" case to HR, since nothing has been done to correct this situation. However, I am afraid that they will retaliate after closing the investigation because I cannot fulfill all of the duties assigned within the deadlines. Is it possible to use the DVD to defend myself, since it was my media, and I created the video?
I am not sure what state you are in so the laws may slightly vary. But I will assume they will be very very similar if not exactly the same throughout all states regarding what I am going to tell you.
The DVD you created is unfortunately not your property. It is the property of the business you work for and you cannot use it the way you wish to use it.
However, based on what you told me, I would recommend filing a complaint with HR asap, hiring a workplace attorney, and going after the company directly. Some workplace attorneys may even work a case like this on a commission basis. The attorney with then hire an investigator to conduct a workplace investigation and the attorney will be able to subpoena the videos so you can legally use them.
Before "destroying" the DVD's you have, I would consult with an attorney and possibly have him subpoena the video evidence ASAP while you are still in control of the evidence. This way you, as an employee, can provide the evidence.