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Porn on shared computer? Enforce log-in, log-out rules

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in Discrimination and Harassment,HR Management,Human Resources

Your computer-usage policy no doubt prohibits visiting inappropriate web sites. But what if someone surfs forbidden sites using a computer that a group of employees has access to?

In such cases, investigate but make sure to check out everyone’s story. When did the offense take place? Who had access then? Your IT staff can provide technical assistance so you can base your investigation and conclusions on facts.

Recent case: All respiratory technicians at an Indiana hospital shared one computer. HR was called in when porn sites were found in the computer’s “favorites” tab.

The hospital’s IT office discovered that only one technician was on duty when the sites were accessed. The hospital fired that employee.

He sued, alleging sex discrimination, claiming he was singled out because he was the only male technician. The court disagreed, citing the IT’s good-faith, unbiased investigation. (Farr v. St. Francis Hospital and Health Centers, No. 08-3203, 7th Cir., 2009)

Final note: Adopt a policy requiring employees to log in and out whenever using shared computers. Then enforce it. That makes tracking usage much easier.

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