Judge Says Employer Can Dig ThroughEmployee'sE-mail (article)
rda at rti.org
Fri Mar 30 07:32:08 EST 2001
I understand the cynicism that can build when these types of things are
discussed. I also share healthy contempt for the sleazy boss who just
wants to make the subordinates squirm; however, I also know that much of
the reason that policies get put in place is due to liability and other
legal BS. Another reason is that some employees are jerks who will do
things that you, as a responsible employee, wouldn't dream of doing.
(Put in a harsh way, your freedom pretty much ends where the company's
If you don't have a policy that email is for business only, then you
may be liable when someone uses it to run their little business on the
side or sends out Nazi party materials to the local synagogue. Business
in general is risk averse so policies are set to limit liability.
I have always felt that employees should be trusted until they give a
good reason that they shouldn't. Unfortunately after almost 30 years of
experience, I have found this to be unwise in a number of cases. Nine
out of ten employees are trustworthy without a thought. The tenth will
take as many liberties as possible and test the limits of all policies.
(Check out the drivers on I-40: some people drive merrily along near the
speed limit and some will do anything to get around you even if you are
speeding or if it means swerving dangerously in and out of traffic.) The
jerks make everyone else suffer the indignities of traffic laws.
The dilemma is that policies that are made to limit the a**holes end up
irritating the reasonable, trustworthy employees. Loyalties are tested
when everyone is lumped in with the jerks who will do almost anything to
rip off the "big, bad company".
Such is life. Roger (in RTP, a babe in the woods)
> This is just one of the many invasive employee policies that
> corporations are allowed to visit on their workers -- in some cases,
> policies so antithical to the US Bill of Rights that our own government
> cannot apply them to its own employees. As long as companies get away
> with acting like medieval feudal systems they will; as long as people
> work for companies that do this sort of thing, the companies will not
> only continue, they will become more and more autocratic as they try to
> wring everything that they can from their employees and "protect their
> assets" to the n^th degree. This trend always gets worse when
> unemployment rises, and companies do not back away from their policies
> unless forced -- once instituted, a policy tends to become honored
> tradition within an amazingly brief time.
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