Employees fired for web surfing
Management Tips by Donald Burleson
The web site
www.salary.com reports that over $750 billion dollars in
productivity is lost due to employee web surfing each year and
corporations are starting to fight back.
notes the justification used to fire an employee who was surfing the
web at work:
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
Terminating employees helps
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
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
that the employee chose an improper method of performing his job
does not shield the employer from liability . . "
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."
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.