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Wrongful termination, anonymous writings, and other documents in the workplace

Questioned Documents in Dispute

An employee working at a Fortune 500 company discovered a threatening and anonymous note near his locker. He immediately contacted security who, in turn, contacted the local police department and a forensic document examiner (FDE). Two more letters surface that also contain threatening comments. At the request of the FDE, the security department quickly gathered handwriting samples from the victim and from several persons who had access to the area where the notes were found.


In situations where questioned documents could have originated from among any number of resources, the FDE typically will pursue samples from a logical pool of potential writers, not just from the writing of one suspect. This is usually critical to thorough investigation and findings.

The investigation in the above scenario followed a well-tuned process:

This case resolved quickly because an alert security department worked closely with the police department and the FDE, and consistent procedures were followed.

Anonymous writings, and other cases involving documents at the workplace, are especially sensitive in a questioned document situation. They need to be evaluated quickly, accurately, and discretely in a manner that protects both employers and employees. Security, human resources, and IT departments of companies need to be trained in policies for response because evidence can be inadvertently lost, tainted, or compromised if security and IT personnel are not well prepared in hard copy and electronic document handling.

When working with human resource departments or security departments, it is critical to ensure that the documents findings will be presented in an objective and fair manner that does not bring undue exposure to specific employers or employees.

With few exceptions, Ms. Fisher requests writings from a pool of writers at the work site. These procedures are particularly critical in the case of anonymous writings because it can happen that several employees, including employers and supervisors, may have similar handwriting characteristics.

Document Types

Documents that become in question employer/employee cases are commonly:

Investigative approach in a wrongful termination case

In a wrongful termination case example, Ms. Fisher was retained to determine if several of the employer's handwritten notes about a woman employee's performance were written during the time periods that each note was dated, or whether the notes were fabricated for evidence.

Her investigation found that the yellow-lined paper, on which five of the notes were written, was characterized by upside down watermarks. Further investigation of these watermarks resulted in the pivotal evidence that the five notes had been written over shorter period of time than the employer claimed. The investigation into the upside down watermarks was printed in the San Francisco Trial Lawyers' Newsletter. Link to paper

Need help? 30 Years Experience available as your resource

Ms. Fisher understands the sensitivity involved in employer/employee cases and works quickly and efficiently to assist attorneys, human resource departments, private investigators, and law enforcement agencies to resolve the document issues in their cases.


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