Taking video as an evidence for Sabotaging of others' work - (Mar/04/2010 )
I had problem with my experiment for 4-5months and felt somebody was messing up my work.
I told my boss but he just said it was impossible for somebody to mess up others' work.
I made some marks, my own and could know it was true.
In our lab, everybody has own incubator, freezer, and refrigerator.
I bought a small spy camera and set up video just for my area(one time for my desk and refrigerator and another one for incubator) when I left work.
In the first video for my desk area, a research professor in our lab came to my area and checked things on my desk/bench.
In second video for my incubator, the research professor and her technician came into cell culture room. They opened my incubator and took my plate somewhere and put it back one by one for over one hours.
I gave these videos to my boss and he told the research professor about it.
The research professor reported to HR and University police about video taping.
According to some website, it was not illegal in Pennsylvania unless it record speech/or in very private place like bathroom. I thought it would be a big problem but still limited video taping area as much as possible. I was wrong and what I did is a violation of university law.
I thought I was the victim but suddenly I became accused person. Although I had specific reason to do that, University doesn't count it.
I'm looking for expert advice on this issue. It seems not easy to find a expert lawyer on bioethics.
If anybody can give any kind of advice, it will be very helpful.
Thank you very much
The only advice I can give is to get a lawyer and have a look at the university regulations. This is not an issue of bioethics, it is a violation of public rights issue more likely (as in you violating their rights by recording them covertly). I suspect your suspicions of sabotage would not stand up in court unless you could prove it. Moving someone's plates is not necessarily sabotage, perhaps they had reason to move them (like checking on your work???).
bob1 on Mar 4 2010, 07:30 PM said:
What do you mean "checking on somebody's work"?
When you take somebody else' plate, what can you check? When those people already know how cells look like, what else they can learn by checking on them.
I know some people may say just like you. That's why I want to get some advice from an expert.
Do you have any experience something like this?
How people can prove when somebody interferes others' work.
I just took the area that nobody was expected to be unless somebody intended to do something with my stuff.
While I was searching information on this issue, I found lots of people had this kind of issue but couldn't prove it.
You have two separate issues here, but you're rolling them into one.
If the research professor did what you allege he or she did, namely sabotage your work, then he or she acted unethically. It's questionable whether such behavior, while clearly unethical, is actually illegal. If you're federally funded, perhaps legal action could be brought against him or her for causing the waste of research dollars; I don't know. But surely there's some mechanism in place at your institution for address of grievances regarding unethical behavior. What, by the way, was the explanation he or she gave for tampering with your experiment?
The other, separate problem you have is that you may have illegally taped his or her actions. This is not an ethical issue, but a legal one. If it is illegal where you are to tape someone like you did, it doesn't matter why you did it, only that you did it. For example, if I'm certain that a neighbor has stolen something of mine, I can't break into his house to find it -- that's breaking and entering, no matter what my reason for doing it was.
To protect yourself, you don't need a lawyer on bioethics -- I suspect they're hard to find because acting unethically is not necessarily illegal, therefore it's probably not a very lucrative law specialty -- but you do need a lawyer well versed in the video taping laws, if charges are pursued.