Three Part Blog
Part 2: The Internet and Employee Liability
In the previous article, we looked at productivity concerns related to employee use of the Internet. In this article we turn our attention to liabilities managers must consider when employees use company resources to access the Internet. So what new liabilities have you brought upon yourself since your company decided to connect to the ‘Net?
The term “hostile workplace” conjures up images of screaming supervisors publicly berating employees. Now, Sally walks past Fred’s cubicle and Fred has a provocative YouTube clip running on his screen. Then Fred, who has always had a weird sense of humor, email broadcasts an off-color joke that he thinks is a riot. Most of the recipients in the office think Fred’s joke is marginally funny, if that, but Sally, who is miserable to begin with, is now sent over the edge and decides to retire by slapping a hostile workplace lawsuit on you. Sound like an exaggeration? The Internet has broadened the definition of sexual harassment. Edward Jones, one of the world’s biggest brokerage firms, issued a memo demanding its workers disclose if they sent pornography or off-color jokes over the brokerage’s e-mail system. Forty-one employees who confessed were disciplined, but 19 who failed to come forward were fired. More about this topic...
It is strongly recommended that an Internet Acceptable Use Policy be
developed and communicated to all employees when an organization begins
using an Internet monitoring or web filtering product.
New Jersey Supreme Court issued an opinion in Stengart v. Loving Care
Agency, Inc. considering whether an employee had a reasonable
expectation of privacy in emails she exchanged with her attorney via her
web-based personal email account using a company laptop. In concluding
that the former employee did have an expectation of privacy, the Court
analyzed the adequacy of the notice provided by the company's electronic
communications policy and the important public policy concerns raised
by the attorney-client privilege. More about this topic...