Employee accessing child porn: Just saying ‘Stop’ isn’t enough — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Employee accessing child porn: Just saying ‘Stop’ isn’t enough

Get PDF file

by on
in Human Resources

When it comes to what your employees do on the Internet, "Hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil" is a bad policy.

If you know someone is using company assets and company time to engage in illegal activity—in this case, accessing online child porn at work—you may be obligated to report the activity to the appropriate authorities.

This ruling is the first in assessing liability for failing to contact police about an employee's illegal Internet use. But it may signal that more lawsuits like it are on the horizon, and more courts will be open to such liability. In the meantime, if you uncover employees' illegal actions, take swift employment action and consult with your attorney about your duty to contact the police.

Recent case: When the mother of a 10-year-old girl discovered that her husband had uploaded nude photos of his stepdaughter to a child-porn Web site using his office computer, she sued the employer and won.

Her theory was a novel one: Because the company's IT person discovered that the employee was viewing sexually explicit Web sites, the company was negligent for not investigating further and telling the authorities about its findings.

Despite evidence that the employee was accessing porn sites, including those with child porn, the IT person simply told him to stop and never notified a supervisor. The New Jersey Appeals Court ruled that the company had a duty either to report possible illegal activity to the police or fire the employee. (Doe v. XYC Corp., No A-2909-04T2 Superior Court of New Jersey 2005)

Final tips: This decision is the first to assess legal liability against a company for failing to contact police about an employee's illegal use of the Internet. The ruling may signal that more lawsuits like it are on the horizon, and more courts will be open to such liability.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: