Australian Firm Forced To Rehire Employee It Fired For Viewing Porn On Work Computers

from the so-now-it's-allowed? dept

Last year, NCR Australia fired a long-term (31 years) employee after it discovered 175 pornographic pictures stored on his work computer. That kind of story isn't all that uncommon these days -- but what is strange is that the Industrial Relations Commission has apparently told the company it needs to hire the guy back, saying that his dismissal was unfair, as well as "harsh, unreasonable and unjust." The man in question claimed that such content was routinely passed around at work, including from his supervisor. The review found that, even though having porn on the computer may have violated the signed policies of the company, since the signing of that form was done in a "mechanical, unthinking routine," it probably was meaningless. I would imagine this does not mean that Australians are free to surf porn at work whenever they feel like it, but they might at least make a reasonable defense as to why they shouldn't be fired for it.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    DreadedOne509, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 4:13am

    Mechanical

    ..."mechanical, unthinking routine," it probably was meaningless.

    I imagine that this line of defense could be used in damn near anything we sign these days. We go through so much mandatory training where I work, and are required to sign "I understand" documents about the topic that nobody bothers to read them any more.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 5:55am

    This is freaking stupid. You know what? If you sign your name to something, you need to be responsible for it. Read it. If they try to hurry you, tell them to piss off. If you see terms you don't agree with, ask to strike them or decide whether you can live with them.

    What does a company have to do to have a legal, contractural relationship with an employee? Initialing every paragraph and signing isn't enough?

     

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  3.  
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    Mike, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 6:00am

    I make all my users sign the Accepted Use Policy in BLOOD!

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 6:02am

    Bottom line: do not participate in the viewing or distribution of non-work-related materials, and keep records of EVERYTHING in the meantime.

     

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  5.  
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    Haywood, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 6:02am

    I remember a mechanic; fired at my last employer for shoddy work and not much of it who was reinstated by the union. After reinstatement he was totally useless. What were they going to do? Fire him? Now the porn watching can ramp up significantly.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 6:16am

    I Love Porn!

     

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  7.  
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    Clifford Edward VanMeter, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 6:30am

    Re: "Reading"

    If you have no choice but to sign whatever they put in front of you, or loose your job, you have no choice at all. Why bother to read it? This is just like a shrink-wrap ULAs -- accept our definition of usage or don't use the software is no choice. I think its great that a government organization has actually recognized the fact that this rises to the level of an autonomic response to coercion.

    As far as what they have to do -- Maybe they should try screening hires a little more thoroughly. Hiring people who don't download porn in the first place would probably be the better choice.

    Not sure if this is an example of this or not, but can't let the opportunity to rail against the man slide past -- This whole "zero tolerance" concept is bullshit. Its a way of absolving the individuals in the company of the responsibility of thinking and responding on par with the infraction. Same with schools and everywhere else they have these zero tolerance rules.

    Common sense, good judgement, maybe even a modicum of compassion. Aren't these traits we should require in our leadership -- whether its a school principal, a CEO, or an elected official?

     

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  8.  
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    Wyndle, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 6:40am

    Gotta love the logic there...

    ..."mechanical, unthinking routine," it probably was meaningless.

    So now anyone who wants a signed contract in Australia to be legally binding will be required to videotape the signee stating, in his or her own words, what the contract means.

    I do see a silver lining in that though, the companies will probably choose digital recording which means an increase in server space requirements. That in turn could mean a few hundred or thousands more IT jobs in the country. And the beast would feed itself from that point because each of those IT jockeys will have to sign a contract...

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 6:55am

    I think that although having porn on your work computer is shameful, disgusting and unprofessional, it should not mean termination, especially after 31 years.

    They could have punished him by a deduction in pay or by withholding an annual raise or something. The punishment does not fit the crime.

    Now, if the man had intentionally infected the network with viruses or something that actually CAUSED DAMAGE, then I think termination would have been in order.

     

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  10.  
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    Horny Anonymous Bastard, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 7:09am

    Horn Dog

    I just need to know one thing; should I delete my work porn collection or not?

    Why not fire the guy? If he is viewing porn at work he is not working or not concentrating on work to the extent he could be. Sort Of like how I'm surfing now. IF I was caught doing this other than my break time (which it now is) I'd face consequences. I signed a paper saying I wouldn't surf or view porn during work. If I get caught doing it then it's my own fault and I should be fired - 31 years or 1 year on the job, it doesn't matter!

     

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  11.  
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    Justin, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 7:11am

    I should read?

    *puts on tin hat*

    Why should I read papers that tell me what I can and can not do at work. That's just crazy. I mean really they can't expect me to know what I should and should not do...

    right?

    *takes off tin hat*

     

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  12.  
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    M. Craig Weaver, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 7:23am

    Hiring people who don't download porn in the first place would probably be the better choice.

    But after they hire both of those people, who will the other corporations hire?

     

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  13.  
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    Darstan, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 7:27am

    Re: "Reading"

    In an ideal world companies would not make you sign away your rights but frankly todays society is sue happy. So if you are going to blame any one blame the lawyers and the people who are out to get money without working for it.

    I see nothing wrong with companies attempting to cover themselves legally. in a time where there are a plethora of sexual harassment suits, wrongful termination suits, etc. I feel it is within a companies rights to attempt to cover themselves legally.

    As far as the choice goes you have the choice. It is their company not yours if you don't like what they are offering you in exchage for your services you have the right to extend your services to another employer that you feel better suits your needs. They are not forcing you to work their they are just saying that to work their you must meet certain standards.

    The above story just tells people that they are not legally bound by the papers they sign. Which to me is a load of crap by signing a contract you are saying that you read and understand the papers you signed and if you don't like it don't sign. But somewhere this fact has gotten lost.

     

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  14.  
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    Drew, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 7:29am

    Re: Re:

    "If you have no choice but to sign whatever they put in front of you, or loose your job, you have no choice at all. Why bother to read it? This is just like a shrink-wrap ULAs -- accept our definition of usage or don't use the software is no choice. I think its great that a government organization has actually recognized the fact that this rises to the level of an autonomic response to coercion."

    This is an inane response. You do have a choice - either you use the software/accept the job on the terms offered to you, or you don't accept it at all. Alternatively, in the case of a job, you could negotiate.

    The way you say it sounds like we are entitled to a job or to using a software. We are not. The company has the right to set its rules. If you decide to accept the job/use the software, you must abide by the rules as well. You can't expect to have everything your way.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 7:54am

    There is a time and place for everything. Porn at work is NOT the right time. Here in the US you can sue for sexual harassment if you see someone looking at porn. Who is that sexually hard up (no pun intended) that they need to look at porn AT WORK? Wait until you get home you perv.
    Guy deserved to be fired.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 7:58am

    How'd I get here?.... .. I was trying to find porn from work!!!

     

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  17.  
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    Your Employer, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 8:03am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Since every job comes with what are essentially the same terms WRT signing on for policies, the choice to not take a particular job gets you nowhere. You won't find a job under those terms.

     

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  18.  
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    DOODOO, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 8:07am

    BS

    I cant beieve in the world today, where countless millions have access to the internet that this hasnt already been dismissed as total bullshit.
    as a business owner, I had this problem solved immediately by restricting my employees access to pornographic websites. it wasnt hard, didnt cost much and didnt interfere with their work related internet usage.
    I would never fire the guy, give me a break. I would simply increase his workload and make him accountable for every minute he was at work.
    that seems to be something people forget.......when you are at work - WORK!. when you are on your own time - DO WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT.
    it seems to me that the company with the issue has larger problems than this guy looking at porn.......
    you could probably increase your effectiveness and productivity by requireing your employees to work for their money instead of looking at TITS AND ASS all day. GEEZ.

     

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  19.  
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    NGUVU, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 8:33am

    If they didn't rehire him...

    ...he should have just sued them for being exposed to pornography by his supervisor. Wrongful Termination anyone?

     

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  20.  
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    Wyndle, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 9:12am

    Re: How'd I get here?

    If you worked in the adult entertainment industry you'd be at work making porn. On your breaks you'd be surfing the web researching the competition.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 9:14am

    Re: Re: "Reading"

    If you have no choice but to sign whatever they put in front of you, or loose your job, you have no choice at all.

    Bullshit. You have very clear choices there. Just because you don't like what life dishes out to you doesn't mean you don't have control. Your attitude that because you don't like your choices that somehow it's somebody else's fault life sucks for you is a complete cop-out and exactly why the U.S. has such a mindlessly litigious society. Life sucks sometimes. Deal with it and quit whining.

    Maybe they should try screening hires a little more thoroughly. Hiring people who don't download porn in the first place would probably be the better choice.

    Which is exactly what the contract is there for. Agreeing to is says that you are exactly the kind of person you say they should hire. How the hell else are they supposed to know what kind of person you are? Your logic is thick as a brick buddy.

    Zero tolerance rules have been put into place because of people just like this fool. If you people can't wait to wank your little pricks until you get home then you've not only got problems but if you were my employee you'd be fired too for waisting the money I pay you to look at pussy (or whatever you're flavor) than to do the work you were hired for. Whiner. Wank at home on your own time.

    Aren't these traits we should require in our leadership...

    Where to fucking begin! Common sense: in the eye of the beholder therefore cannot be required because everyone has a different view of what it is - if it cannot be measured than it cannot be required. Good judgment: same as above. Compassion: again. Cannot be measured and therefore cannot be required or enforced.

    And since when does the CEO of a privately held (or even publicly held) company have to fall within your scope of leadership? To require private companies to comply with your personal standards is inane.

    I hope you're still a teen cause if you're "all grown up" than stop wondering what's wrong with this country.

     

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  22.  
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    Leff, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 9:20am

    "...Maybe they should try screening hires a little more thoroughly. Hiring people who don't download porn in the first place would probably be the better choice.."

    Well duh, but what does a "porn viewer" look like. What do they sound like. Its not like they come to an interview in an I heart pron shirt.. while masturbating. Besides who DOESN'T look now days. Hell I just got done looking at pron and I haven't even been awake a complete hour today.

     

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  23.  
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    Haorny Anon Bstrd, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 9:43am

    Wakey Wakey, hands off Snakey.

    Get a life Leff. Lots of people have gotten past the porn is good stage and moved on to families, careers and HAPINESS. They're called adults. If it takes porn to make you happy and you need it to get your day started I feel sorry for you. Get off your arse and quit daydreaming about the girl next door. Sex is great but porn is a complete waste of time and brain matter.

     

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  24.  
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    DOODOO, Nov 6th, 2006 @ 10:13am

    Re: Wakey Wakey, hands off Snakey.

    If it takes porn to make you happy and you need it to get your day started I feel sorry for you.

    Really,........ I cant believe you have just said that.
    There is nothing better than a good wank in the morning right after you wake up.

    I am sorry about that. it's obvious that you know nothing about sex or porn.

    you know it is possible to love your family and have a career while looking at sexy naked women. I should know, I am one of them.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 6:01am

    Re: Re: Wakey Wakey, hands off Snakey.

    Whoa there DOODOO (Sure sounds like a sexy beautiful womans name) I wake with morning wood every day and often my wife helps with that. But Its her I want to see, not some airbrushed chick on a web page. I just don't want a lubricated hand in the shower. I only settle for the real thing.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 4:01pm

    Re: Re: Wakey Wakey, hands off Snakey.

    Send me a picture!!

     

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  27.  
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    rickybee, Nov 11th, 2006 @ 4:33am

    Orientation

    This defense wouldn't work at our place because I give EVERY new employee a half hour talk where we go through the 'Electronic Communications Policy' of the firm and they are required to sign at the end.

    I read the whole document to them and talk about cases like this.

     

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