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Can porn spam be concidered Sexual Harassment to employees?

By sostermann ·
We have a relatively new employee (manager) here who has recieved two or three pornagraphic spam e-mails in her inbox.

She has sent an e-mail to upper management stating

"This is now border line harassing! Some employees would consider this
sexual harassment."

We are doing what we can with our limited resources right now. We don't host our own e-mail servers, therefore rely mostly on the ISP's to filter to most obvious spam. To make matters worse we are using Outlook Express for now and rely heavily on e-mail for customer orders -- therefore we can't risk false positives in filtering spam. It's never been much of a problem before -- just a slight nuisance.

Nobody likes to get spam - I especially dislike pornagraphics spam. My qestion is: can the company be held liable for unsolicited e-mails in an employees inbox?

What do you think?

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The answer is yes and no

by jmgarvin In reply to Can porn spam be concider ...

Porn spam can be seen as a form of sexual harrassment *IF* you aren't using due diligence. It sounds like you are doing the best you can with the resources available.

If you manager keeps down this road, I would explain that filtering spam is difficult at best and sometimes they will get through.

If you setup a support system where spam can be reported, would that help ease tensions?

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but

by Dr Dij In reply to The answer is yes and no

the harrassment isn't by someone in the company. It is by unknown outsiders (or sometimes known outsiders).

If she wanted to sue, she should sue them.
If some sticks unwanted mail in your USPS mail slot it comes from somewhere else. throw it out, hit the delete key.

or use a hosted spam filter like messagelabs or brightmail. they can still use the same mail host to use these usually.

and things like a barracuda spam wall are pretty cheap if they move in house ever. for very small companies, tho outsourcing is way to go.

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What is harassment

by ArtGal In reply to The answer is yes and no

There are two kinds of S.H.: Quid Pro Quo (you give me this, I?ll give you that?), or the more common "hostile environment. To claim hostile environment, one has to show that the behavior is severe enough to create an environment that a REASONABLE PERSON would find hostile. Keep working on your spam solutions, and perhaps send he to HR for a review of the EEOC language:

http://www.eeoc.gov/types/sexual_harassment.html

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Wrong answer jmgarvin! Porn spam IS Sexual Harassment

by Scoid In reply to The answer is yes and no

Management is capable of preventing most if not all porn spam. Management is also charged with the responsiblity to provide a harassment-free, "non-poisonous" working environment for staff. Unsolicited e-mail that contains sexual content is poisonous and harassing. Management can be sued for it, and the employee will likely win the case. I consult to an organization where 60% of its unfiltered inbound e-mail is spam. Its management has researched, acquired, and actively manages systems that ensure none of the spam makes it to employee workstations. Believe it or not, it can be done!

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Another Wiring Closet Lawyer

by sprdave32 In reply to Wrong answer jmgarvin! P ...

Perhaps in Canada Scoid, perhaps in Canada. I seriously doubt spam would legally be considered sexual harassment in a court of law in our United States ...but don't take mine or any others opinions here as gospel. What you need to do is ask your companies legal counsel this question. Just ask upper management, they will point you in the right direction. Also, a hosted spam filter solution would probably be a good idea. They are not overly expensive and most work very well.

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Holy Mackerel!

by Scoid In reply to Another Wiring Closet Law ...

So you mean if I was a manager of dubious morals and ethics, and I wanted to get rid of, say a highly religious yet incompetent employee in the US, all I'd have to do is get a third party to target that person with lots of porn spam to the point where he or she just couldn't comfortably work for my firm any longer? What a great way to get rid of someone without the risk of being sued for wrongful dismissal! (Sorry - I get paid to think this way.)

I like your hosted filter solution - that's what my clients use. They work great after some tweaking.

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If the person was incompetent...

by ~Omega~ In reply to Holy Mackerel!

Nothing so drastic would need to be done to terminate the employee. All of the states that I have worked in have been "at-will" employment, meaning that if either the company or myself wanted to terminate employment, the other party could take no legal action (of course, unless I could prove discrimination, but then, the burden of proof is on me.)
My point is this, simply. Unethical or dubious morals and Unethical managment aside, an incompetent employee would be fairly easy to terminate. YOUR FIRED! why? You were unable to perform your job duties satisfactorily.
A competent employee? Doesn't matter in "at-will" employment. Why? <Insert reason here>. The only merit your argument has for this one is avoiding unemployment benefits, but usually companies gather evidence supporting incompetence claims before terminating an employee.

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Depends on where you live

by mgordon In reply to Holy Mackerel!

Yes, you could do that, but why not just fire such a person? I work in an "at will" state; I can walk out the door any time I feel like it and my employer can kick me out the door any time he feels like it. The HR department is considerably smaller in such states.

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by SilentBob In reply to Depends on where you live

I whole-heartedly agree, boot 'em if you can. If the company does an adequate job of trying to "protect" her and she still complains... "there's the door"

I would not want to be at the board meeting where:

Mgt "Why is the new database project not completed yet?"

IT "We had to re-allocate the budget for an on-site spam filter so Janice wouldn't get so offended, which took up the money that we'd set aside for that new SQL Server the project needed."

Just my $0.02

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Didn't mean it to sound so harsh

by sprdave32 In reply to Holy Mackerel!

Sorry Scoid, I didn't intend for my post to come off in such a harsh way and the subject, "another wiring closet lawyer", was not aimed directly at you. My concern is for the original poster in this thread. Reliance on this board is perfect for some things but I believe in this case he and his superiors should seek professional legal counsel, lest they get caught in an irreversible situation. Might cost a couple of hundred bucks for a $10 answer but its better to be safe than sorry. None of us will be in a position to defend him if the case materializes and makes it past discovery. Sometimes an ounce of prevention... well you get the point. As we are all aware, every jurisdiction of every region of every state of every country is slightly different in how these sorts of cases are handled. On a personal note: wait for the day that she wears a short skirt to work. Run to management complaining that you feel targeted by her exposure and you are finding it very difficult to function in such a provocative environment ...kidding *grin*

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