Increase In Regulations Just Creates More Reasons To Fire Employees

from the covering-up-the-symptoms dept

Reports of people getting fired for seemingly trivial indiscretions with their computer have become rather commonplace in recent years. It’s not hard to figure out why: technology has created a minefield, whereby the smallest mistake can create major liability for an employer. The legal risks alone include sexual harassment lawsuits and failure to comply with regulations. But instead of taking it out on the employee, and explaining why these firings are justifiable, perhaps more effort should be placed on attacking the legal and regulatory culture that created this mess. It’s getting to the point with digital communication that it’s arbitrary whether an employee is communicating by email or by IP-based phone call. Yet we rarely hear about someone getting fired for a joke they made over the phone (but watch out when it becomes cheap and easy to archive all calls). Any system based on a hodge-podge of regulations that treat different forms of communication differently is bound to result in a lot of mistakes and needless terminations.

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Comments on “Increase In Regulations Just Creates More Reasons To Fire Employees”

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Yet another Anonymous Coward says:

Many states have enacted “Work at will” laws, which mean “Fire at will”. No justification needed.

I do agree that evidence is the main issue – hearsay is of no value, and readwrite (to coin a new phrase) has value.

Still, it’s the logging issue that may condemn you. How can you prove or disprove bit level tampering or spoofing?

I threaten folks that leave workstations unlocked with sending nasty e-mails to the CEO from their login. Such as: “When do you want to go fornicating with sheep again?” Message logged, read, employee fired, for nothing more than leaving a w/s unlocked.

chris (profile) says:

legal precedents

an email is admissible in court and can be subpoenaed…

if you record someone you have to tell them first. that’s why you always hear “this call may be recorded for quaility assurance purposes” when you call customer service or tech support lines.

when i worked for a helpdesk i used to record people who yelled or made threats. that way when something ugly happened, i had the recording (of them yelling and me being sweet and helpful) to prove i remained professional.

conversely, customer service types don’t often have the ability to record calls. however, their calls are occasionally monitored by thier supervisors who can record.

of course, in a customer service situation it doesn’t matter if you are satisified or not. technical support is vastly different, however.

Randal S. Hunter (user link) says:

I don't understand how creating more regulations w

Incompitence can be easily targeted, noted and logged on many different occasions.

By simply having a good repor with your employees for the most part, they’ll let you know whos slacking and from there it’s not hard to catch them in their tracks.

But increasing regulations sound to me more like it can linger into another area such as personal vendetta, in which I can terminate a compitent worker without any substancial evidence.

I do pretty good with the old regulations

bmac (profile) says:

Loss of productivity is a bigger reason...

to get rid of employees wasting time on the Internet (or the phone, for that matter).

Yes, there are “indiscretions” that occur, and most can be overlooked, but there are also the blatant abusers who will not stop watching pr0n on their work computer (or playing games, working on their MySpace page, etc.) until they are caught and disciplined and/or fired.

The goal should be to let the user know that yes, we really can see everything you do, someone is actually checking those logs, and we keep the logs for 6 months or longer, so stop this activity before it gets the attention of someone higher up in the company.

Too many companies use these logs to go after the slightest infraction, and that, IMHO, is just wrong.

Joe Smith says:


This is partly a reaction to the out of control legal system.

It seems like a lot of what is being characterized as sexual harrasssment is really just bad manners or social inadequacy.

That said, given the liaibility risks for companies they are within their rights if they have a clear policy on what is and what is not permissible use and fire employees promptly for any violation.

Given the repressive legal climate (both civil and criminal) there is no reason for companies to cut the employees any slack if it means rolling the dice on million dollar damage awards or criminal prosecution.

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