Consequences of Plagiarism for Professionals
By Erin Schreiner, eHow Contributor - updated: February 23, 2010
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Don't risk your reputation by plagiarizing.
Plagiarism, or the attempt to pass off the work of another as your own, is a serious offense that can have long-lasting ramifications. Though this form of intellectual property theft is predominantly found in educational institutions, it can also occur within the workplace. When a professional commits plagiarism, he runs the risk of suffering serious penalties. These penalties can extend outside of the office environment and place the individual at risk of legal action.
Depending upon the severity of the plagiarism and the amount of information that was stolen, employers may decide to sanction their employee. Sanctions are most commonly given when the plagiarism is minor and could be accidental. If there is a chance that the employee simply used a similar turn of phrase or sentence structure, employers will frequently give their employee a warning, reminding him to be more diligent when working to avoid plagiarism in the future.
If it is apparent that work was deliberately plagiarized, many employers elect to terminate the plagiarizer. Depending upon the state in which the individual is employed and the specifics of the contract, plagiarism can be seen as just cause of firing, meaning that the fired employee would not be eligible for unemployment benefits.
In some industries, employees who plagiarize can be blacklisted. Commonly, companies will share information about employees who have been terminated for a plagiarism-related offense with sister companies or other prominent industry leaders. This negative attention can result in the fired employee not being hired by other companies within the industry.
Plagiarizers can be subject to criminal charges. The type and severity of the charges depends upon the amount and type of material unlawfully copied. Most commonly, plagiarists receive stiff fines. However, they can be subject to jail time if they fail to pay the assessed fines, or if the incidence of plagiarism is considered severe. In some instances, plagiarism can be a felony, and the plagiarizer can be assessed a penalty of $250,000 and receive up to 10 years in jail, according to Plagiarism.org. These penalties are the responsibility of the individual who perpetrated the plagiarism, and not any organization with which the plagiarizer is affiliated. As technology makes piracy and plagiarism more easily perpetrated and prevalent, legal authorities take a more firm stance on detecting incidents of plagiarism and prosecuting perpetrators.
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