Turns Out It's Not Sex Discrimination To Get Fired For Looking At Porn Sites

from the who-knew? dept

Eric Goldman alerts us to an appeals court ruling finding against a guy who claims that his firing was gender discrimination after the hospital he worked for found that he had been surfing porn and "hacking" sites. The guy's entire case seems like a huge stretch. In the department he worked for, there was one computer shared between 7 people, with this guy, David Farr, being the only guy. While each employee had a separate login, apparently whoever logged in first usually just stayed logged in all day. When it was discovered that a number of porn sites were listed in the favorites, the hospital did what sounds like a decently thorough investigation, and found it quite likely that it was Farr who visited the sites (one of the days the activity occurred was a Saturday where he was the only one there). He eventually admitted to visiting 17 of the 31 sites in question, but then later claimed that he had visited sites that installed malware on the computer that added the bookmarks to the porn sites. But then... when confronted again, admitted to visiting the 17 sites.

He claimed that it was gender discrimination, since he was the only guy, there was an automatic assumption that he had visited the porn sites. Yet, the court points out that (1) he failed to show that a female employee wouldn't have been treated in the same way and (2) the hospital was incredibly thorough in investigating the issue, especially after he denied visiting some of the sites. They didn't just jump to a conclusion and fire him, but apparently went into quite a lot of detail in making sure that he had actually been visiting those sites. On top of that, the court notes that his employment was at-will, so the hospital had every right to fire him. It's difficult to see how he thought a gender discrimination claim would get very far given that he admitted to visiting some of the sites, as well as the amount of investigation that was done by the hospital. But, these days, people seem to think that anything they don't like that happens to them must be against the law.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jul 1st, 2009 @ 9:57am

    Idiot

    He should have hit a bunch of slashfic sites to throw them off the trail.

     

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  2.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 1st, 2009 @ 10:00am

    Re: Idiot

    and thrown Cosmo's website in there too, just to really confuse them.

     

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  3.  
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    ZR Javelin (profile), Jul 1st, 2009 @ 10:04am

    Is it a gender thing?

    How stupid does this guy have to be? If you really HAVE to surf porn at work, at least have the brains to remove the evidence.

    I guess NOW he has all the time in the world to surf porn, AT HOME.

    Who thinks women don't surf porn? Wanna know why? They aren't so dumb as to do it at WORK - just a guess mind you.

     

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  4.  
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    Rob, Jul 1st, 2009 @ 10:08am

    Sex Discrimination...

     

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  5.  
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    Rob, Jul 1st, 2009 @ 10:12am

    Sex Discrimination...

    Even if the ONLY reason they were investigating this guy was because he was the only guy around, would he still have a case? I would like to think that he wouldn't, but I can't be sure. I don't feel that a certain degree of profiling should necessarily be that bad of a thing. If they had fired him outright on the assumption that it was him, then that would be discrimination, but starting an investigation with him as the prime suspect certainly is not. When statistics show that nearly all of the people looking at this stuff are male, and he was the only male using that machine, I can't see how it could be unreasonable in the slightest to view him as the prime suspect.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2009 @ 10:45am

    I think guy didn't understand the meaning of sex discrimination.

     

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  7.  
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    Michael Long, Jul 1st, 2009 @ 11:05am

    Against the law...

    "But, these days, people seem to think that anything they don't like that happens to them must be against the law."

    Or conversely, that any law they don't like can be ignored.

     

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  8.  
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    stat_insig (profile), Jul 1st, 2009 @ 11:07am

    what difference does it make

    Surfing porn, reading news, buying stuff: are all have the same effect, paid employee time being used for procrastination.

    Why did they fire the guy! What is wrong with browsing porn at work.

     

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  9.  
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    sherisaid, Jul 1st, 2009 @ 11:34am

    Re: Is it a gender thing?

    I was thinking the same thing. What kind of a moron doesn't clean up after himself? If I were ever bored enough to surf porn at work (let's say I probably wouldn't, but the possibility exists), I would thoroughly destroy tracks, cookies, etc. although my son (at 14) once picked up a malware so virulent that I had porn search with graphic pictures on my homepage for nearly a week before I ripped it out of my registry by the roots. And yeah, women surf porn. they just don't get caught.

     

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  10.  
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    TheStupidOne, Jul 1st, 2009 @ 11:37am

    Re: what difference does it make

    because b00bs are EVIL

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2009 @ 11:39am

    if he used IE 8 with InPrivate feature, this wouldn't happened...

     

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  12.  
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    Jessica (profile), Jul 1st, 2009 @ 11:46am

    Re: Is it a gender thing?

    Who thinks women don't surf porn? Wanna know why? They aren't so dumb as to do it at WORK - just a guess mind you.
    You have guessed correctly, sir.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2009 @ 12:42pm

    uhhhhh...and this is newsworthy on TechDirt because....?

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2009 @ 12:47pm

    What a tool.

    Is Porn such an overriding driver in your life that you have to look at it during the day, at work?

     

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  15.  
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    Ty, Jul 1st, 2009 @ 3:41pm

    Re:

    "Is Porn such an overriding driver..."

    Now that is a valid point. Perhaps he should have gone with the addiction angle. Claiming he was addicted could have saved his job provided he attend counseling or what not. Might not have worked, but it would have stood a better chance than sexual discrimination. (IMHO and of course IANAL).

    either way... what a tard

     

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  16.  
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    1and (profile), Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 5:45am

    absentee IT department

    A hospital with a IT department that ALLOWS access to porn sites? That doesn't actively prevent the download and installation of malware? An IT department that allows wholesale userid misuse?

    Not that I buy into it from a real-life point of view, but didn't the defense miss a huge loop-hole/distraction by not claiming that the IT department made the misuse of the computer inevitable?

    The next investigation at the hospital should be for gross incompetence in the IT department.

     

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  17.  
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    Someone in Texas, Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 6:14am

    at-will employment in Texas

    Just a slight nit-picking...

    At-will employment does not mean you can be fired for _any_ reason. Being fired as a victim of discrimination, say for your race or sex, is still illegal.

    At-will employment means you can be fired for _no_ reason.

    The only reason in an at-will state like Texas to give a reason when firing someone, is if you want to make it for-cause so you can deny unemployment benefits.

     

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  18.  
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    Someone in Texas, Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 6:39am

    Re: absentee IT department

    I work in the Texas Medical Center--our firewall allows you access to anywhere, you just have to authenticate for sites the firewall would normally block. The reason for this is that in addition to being a hospital, we are a research facility. A lot of research will trigger firewalls.

    This hospital may have been the same way or not had a anti-porn firewall for similar reasons.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 8:52am

    If not for the porn, he should have been fired for visiting sites that install malware. Dumbass.

     

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