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Vulgar e-mail: React differently if sent from home?

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Q. One of our employees sometimes sends offensive jokes to her fellow employees from her home e-mail account. We’re worried that someone may take offense and sue for racial or other harassment. What can we do if she’s sending this from home? — D.B., Kansas

A. First of all, you do have an e-mail policy, right? If not, get one now. If so, it should be broad enough to discipline employees for sending unsolicited e-mails to company e-mail addresses.

Also, tell this employee that you consider her e-mails to be a form of harassment and that the company won’t tolerate such conduct. You can hand out appropriate discipline for insubordination, harassment or violating the company policy as the severity of her offenses merit. Document your actions. The fact that she sends the material from her own e-mail account is irrelevant if she is knowingly disseminating the material to her co-workers.

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