Survey: U.S. Employers Are Increasingly Aware that Foul and Inappropriate E-Mail May Lead to Litigation

Smoking gun e-mail is so common in workplace lawsuits that almost ten percent of companies have been subpoenaed to produce employee e-mail. Eight percent have battled sexual harassment or discrimination claims stemming from employee e-mail and Internet use.

According to the new “2001 Electronic Policies and Practices Survey” issued by the American Management Association, US News & World Report and the ePolicy Institute, employers have become increasingly aware of the dangers in workplace computer use and are taking steps to reduce their liability. Of the 435 employers surveyed, over 68% cite legal liability as the primary reason to keep an eye on employees” online activity.

The good news is that employers can reduce electronic liability, protect assets and stay out of court by properly managing their employees” online behavior. Written policies and monitoring software are indispensable business tools in the age of e-mail and the Internet.

Employers surveyed are taking the following actions to reduce electronic risks:

  • 85% restrict personal Internet use;
  • 81% have an e-mail policy;
  • 77% have an Internet policy;
  • 62% monitor e-mail and Internet use;
  • 56% restrict personal e-mail use;
  • 51% have disciplined or terminated staff for violating e-mail policy;
  • 36% have disciplined employees for accessing pornographic sites; and
  • 35% have an e-mail deletion policy in place.

Although the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Thus the odds are clearly with the house in American roulette online , while they are with the player in European roulette online . Act (ECPA) gives employers the right to monitor all e-mail traffic and Internet activity on the company system, it does not always prevent outraged employees from filing invasion of privacy claims.

A good defense against such claims is to have explicit e-mail, Internet and software policies and give employees clear notice that:

  1. employees do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy;
  2. the company has the right to monitor anything transmitted or stored on its computer system; and
  3. management intends to exercise that right.

Finally, employers should know that one of the best ways to control risk is to control content. Settle for nothing less than good clean content, free from harassing, menacing, threatening, obscene, discriminatory or otherwise offensive language, and you”ll be on your way toward a safe and secure electronic workplace.

Nancy Flynn is the author of The ePolicy Handbook and co-author of Writing Effective E-mail. Visit the ePolicy Institute Web site at www.ePolicyInstitute.com.
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Tim Dimoff, Speaker, National Expert, Author:
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