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Don Burleson Blog 









Employees fired for web surfing

Management Tips by Donald Burleson

The web site reports that over $750 billion dollars in productivity is lost due to employee web surfing each year and corporations are starting to fight back.

This article notes the justification used to fire an employee who was surfing the web at work:

"The penalty of termination is appropriate and not shocking to one's sense of fairness,"  . . . "abuse of the Internet at the time he is supposed to be performing his job demonstrates his disinterest in the job,"

In his book "You're Fired!: Firing Computer Professionals
The IT Manager Guide for Terminating "With Cause"
, Robert Papaj notes that companies have the right to fire people for abuse of company property, and it is easy to monitor the web surfing activities of employees who abuse the web while at work:

"Regardless of the true motivation for a firing, IT managers can avoid wrongful discharge lawsuits by firing IT workers for easily-proven violations like surfing the web at work."

Companies also note that they can be held responsible for the publications (chat rooms, blog comments, message boards) made by employees at-work, a serious legal exposure, especially for libel and defamation.

Already there have been instances of employers terminating employees for blogs that have been perceived as harassing, defamatory, vectors for disclosure of trade secrets and forums for speaking out on very sensitive and controversial subjects.

Terminating employees helps protect companies

Allowing an employee to publish on the internet while at work poses serious legal risks This article by Alfred C. Frawley notes that allowing employees to blog during work hours can expose the company to liability for a host of civil torts:

"Established case law suggests an employer can be liable for even unauthorized publication of allegations by an employee when that publication occurred in performance of an employee's authorized acts"


Frawley also note that company policies must be very strict regarding blogging, and those companies that allow employees to blog do so at their own peril:


"The fact that the employee chose an improper method of performing his job does not shield the employer from liability . . "


"Blogs also may intensify the risk of liability for defamation, copyright and trademark infringement, disclosure of trade secrets or private customer information or other business torts.

Even comments posted to a blog by unrelated third parties may rise to claims of corporate liability."

Details on firing employees for web surfing

Papaj has done an extraordinary job of describing how the savvy manager can document and justify the termination of employees who abuse their internet access for personal purposes.

You can buy "You're Fired" direct from the publisher for 30%-off for only $9.95.



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