My employer has been known to be fairly unethical in the past. The owners do not seem to care much about compliance and everything is frantic. I am currently looking for a new position.
However, today I have been asked to complete a task that I feel is simply unethical and illegal. However, they are reassuring me that everything is okay and that it is my job to complete the task.
We provide IT services to various federal agencies (DHS, DoD, Army, etc.) Sometimes with proposals you are asked to submit signed letters of commitment for the key personnel you are proposing for the job.
Today my employer told me to pull a signature from another document and sign a letter of commitment for an individual who does not know anything about the opportunity we are bidding.
Because it's not a legally binding document, they're saying it's not a big deal and the we've done work with this person before.
My point, though, is that forging a name on anything is not acceptable. What should I do?
Assuming you want to stay a law-abiding citizen, you should refuse.
This is fraud. There is a reason it's a signature, not just a printed name. Forging a signature is illegal, it doesn't matter if the document is super important or just "a little" important.
Refuse to do it. Look for a new job as soon as possible.
Depending on how you feel about it, report them to the proper authorities.
Okay, you are now officially in over your head. See a lawyer who specializes in employment law ASAP and let them know EVERYTHING, update your resume, and get out as soon as your lawyer says you should.
Not only is this fraud, but you may also be a party to it if you say nothing. Again, this is why you need a lawyer ASAP.
Follow the advice of your lawyer and proceed.
In response to the comment below: There are legal search services you can use such as avvo.com or a simple Google search. The local Bar association can help you as well. Or, if you know a lawyer, you can ask him for a referral to one specializing in employment law
If it really isn't a big deal, then your boss should be willing to send you an email clearly directing you to this task. Tell your boss that it doesn't seem right to you, but if they will send an email explaining what needs to be done, you will do it.
If your boss isn't willing to do this, then you should respectfully refuse to do the task.
The goal is to keep your job right now, so that you have time to find another one (as it may be necessary), without doing anything illegal where YOU can be the one thrown under the bus.
If they do send you an email, make sure you forward it to your own, offsite email before doing the task. You want a copy of that email where they can't delete it.
I'm surprised nobody's mentioned the obvious: Ask your employer about legal clarification:
Go up to your boss and ask them how it's legal to do what you're doing because you don't want to personally break the law.
I don't think anybody would hold that against you and if they fail to offer an explanation or tell you to just do it, THEN your best (by far) option is to get a lawyer because government contracting + NDA can lead to blowback (also add the signature so you don't get fired in the interm).
What's the worst they can do? Fire you for asking? That might be grounds for wrongful termination (if it's not at-will) + you don't want to work for them anyways then.
IANAL (I Am Not A Lawyer)
Even for your boss I am not sure if this would rise to criminal charges. It is fraud but not sure it would rise to criminal charges under RICO Act. Still something you want to stay away from. This may be better on law.stackexchange.com.
I get the proposal may not be legally binding. A person may not be available when the contract starts. But a forged signature is fraud. The agency might not file charges but they would likely never do business with the company again. Your boss is taking a foolish risk.
That is close call as you are not making the representation. You are being asked to facilitate. The manager should just have done it them-self. You have to worry this is to use you as a scapegoat.
If you do this for fear of losing your job then be sure you have it in writing you were instructed and stated your objection. They can state you altered email. To get a server subpoenaed is not cheap or easy. You could cc his/her boss but things could go poorly for you. I think refuse would be better than cc.
That said when I worked as a consultant I know my name was used on many proposals that I was not ware of. But I had worked with them before in that capacity and they knew I was not tied up in a long term contract. For sure they did not forge my signature.
Notify the subject of the request, or request his permission/signature directly.
This person should have the final say regarding whether or not his resume and commitment are submitted.
He should know which proposals or bids are associated with his name.
Notify the agency. Anonymously, if possible.
I worked for an established contractor a while ago. This is not how things are done.
Your company's proposal is not being made in good faith and should be removed from consideration.
If they reasonably believe this person would commit, they should have no problem getting a signature with his informed consent.
Contact the labor department for your state.
If there are protections for whistleblowers or wrongful termination, they can tell you how to take advantage of them.
Unfortunately, employment law varies from state to state, so your legal protection largely depends on where you live and work.