Make sure your Internet usage reports are specific

If you have a policy that tries to limit employees’ Internet use, make sure your IT department has an accurate and very specific way to measure that usage.

Otherwise, an employee who’s fired for violating the policy may end up collecting unemployment compensation.

Recent case: Rita Rickabaugh was fired after her company’s IT department reported that her workplace computer logged more Internet use than other employees. Her employer barred excessive Internet usage during work hours.

Rickabaugh wound up receiving unemployment compensation benefits because the IT department couldn’t show which web sites she visited, just the number of times her computer pulled information from the Internet. She testified that she installed a program that constantly updated her screensaver, even during weekends.

The court said she didn’t violate the policy. (Rickabaugh v. Quality Bicycle, No. A09-1355, Court of Appeals of Minnesota, 2010)

BP Handbook D