We all see cases in the news about employers that appear to go above and beyond the call of duty in tracking their employees. Is it ok to record the keystrokes of staff, intercept emails and watch which websites workers are accessing from work?
Around the world cases and questions like these are being asked and answered everyday so lets take a look at a few examples.
Fired for playing solitaire
In January 2006 New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made the headlines for firing an employee after spotting a game of solitaire open on the employee’s computer.
The employee concerned, Edward Greenwood, said after the dismissal that the only times he played solitaire were during breaks and the odd times when he had no work to do.
Most people agree that the odd game of solitaire can be beneficial to productivity, and studies have shown this is indeed the case. But what do you think?
Can a worker be fired for surfing the internet?
A subject for robust banter and much debate. How is surfing the internet different say from making a personal phone call or reading the newspaper for a few minutes?
Toquir Choudhri worked for the U.S. Department of Education. According to reports, he ignored supervisors who tried to stop him browsing the internet during his work time.
The case ended up in front of a judge after his employer’s attempts to try and fire him.
Judge John Spooner decided that Toquir should not be fired: “It should be observed that the internet has become the modern equivalent of a telephone or a daily newspaper, providing a combination of communication and information that most employees use as frequently in their personal lives as for their work.”
Can you get fired for sending personal emails from work?
Employers have a great deal of freedom when it comes to monitoring your work email. Remember, your work email was never intended for you to be organizing your next vacation, or catching up with overseas relations.
Should you choose to use it for non-work methods, then you need to be aware that this can be used against you. The safest way of ensuring you never get caught in an awkward situation is of course to only use your personal email for personal emails.
From an employer’s point of view, they appear to have every reason in the book as to why they should be able to snoop. What if a worker is stealing information from the company? Imagine if a staff member was using email for harassment of another defenceless employee?
One of the more well-known situations involving an employee being fired for personal emailing while at work involved Cameron Pettigrew. Cameron worked in Texas, USA at Fidelity Investments as a Client Relations Manager. He was sacked after his superiors checked his work email account and found out he was running a fantasy football league.
Here at Jobhunters HQ we believe in give and take. If it’s ok to check your work email in the weekend, then shouldn’t it be ok to check your personal email while at work?
If, however, you are one of those people who continually takes advantage and abuses the tools that your company has intrusted you with in an inappropriate manner then chances are you probably deserve to be fired.
Can you get fired for becoming pregnant?
Unfortunately it does happen. Take the case of Peggy Young, a driver for United Parcel Service. Part of Peggy’s job involved lifting packages that were sometimes as much as 70 Pounds (31KG) in weight. After becoming pregnant, her doctor recommended that she should be lifting packages no heavier than 20 Pounds (9 KG).
UPS put Peggy on unpaid leave, meaning she also lost her medical benefits.
In 2008, Peggy sued and lost, meaning that she joined the ranks of thousands of women who register discrimination complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission every year (5800 pregnancy related complaints in 2011 alone).
Can you be sacked for texting at work?
The short answer is, yes you can. In many countries texting has been banned when driving, it can be very distracting and the same is true in the workplace. The lines are blurred though as texting becomes more and more ingrained into both our work and personal lives.
In todays world the lines become increasingly blurred between work and home, in some cases unfairly. Most employers expect 100% focus when an employee is at work which sounds fair enough. However the employer can sometimes forget that their staff may spend more time doing work stuff at home, than they do personal stuff at work. We burn the candle at both ends, checking work emails throughout the weekend, keeping our mobiles at the ready, and even going into the office to catch up on back work or get ahead. A fair and just employer understands this and will hopefully be able to strike a balance between their work expectations for you and your need for personal/down time while at work in order to keep your life on track and be able to consistently give 100%.
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