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Enforce e-mail usage rules–if only to avoid PR nightmare

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in Discrimination and Harassment,HR Management,Performance Reviews

If you let employees ignore reasonable restrictions on how they use company e-mail and other communications tools, you may find yourself having to scramble to prevent embarrassing information from becoming public.

Recent case: Catherine Franklin was fired from her law firm job after she complained about a performance review. E-mail quickly became the focal point. An internal investigation showed that Franklin and a co-worker used e-mail to discuss exchanging prescription drugs. Meanwhile, Franklin alleged she had received a pornographic e-mail from a firm attorney.

Franklin sued, alleging sexual harassment. Her lawsuit included graphic descriptions of the pornographic e-mail, which she claimed showed a partner engaged in sexual activity. The firm had to petition the court to block some of the content to avoid embarrassment and bad publicity. (Franklin v. Simon, Eddins & Greenstone, No. 3:10-CV-1581, ND TX, 2011) 

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