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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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Bad analogy.

by mgordon In reply to Liste to what you just sa ...

"If an accountant is hired and is then subject to offensive email subject lines, it is no different than the secretary being subject to two guys talking about p***y all day long. The company MUSt take measures to stop it"

A better analogy is a business that takes walk-in customers all day. At what point must the business "screen" walk-ins BEFORE the walk-in customer or potential customer reaches the receptionist? If a man walks in and is rude to the receptionist, it might be actionable in some jurisdictions, but it ought to be an action against the perpetrator, not the employer -- although I can easily predict an out-of-control justice system holding the business owner liable since ya gotta sue SOMEONE.

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Land of OZ

by RNR1995 In reply to Liste to what you just sa ...

Ahh in the land of OZ there must be time for such trivial things.
British Columbia now is that actually Canadian or is it British?
2 Facts
1 I would be a Boss if I did not have to put up with P***ies like you. I used to be a Service Manager but I could not stand all the crying.
2 You can be fired at anytime for any reason in the USA. Sure you can waste your time in court, then no other company worth its salt would even want you around, no matter how good you were. As a matter of fact, once you go to the personnel office and compain about someone or something in your company, your career there is OVER. Anyway why would you want to stay at a company that makes you so miserable? Can't get a real job? or just don't feel like working?

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Not if there is a company handbook/policy

by david.pennington In reply to Dear Einstein

Ohio is an "Employment at will" state, UNLESS the company has a handbook or policy manual that states reasons or actions that an employee can be disnissed for.
Now back to the issue.... Spam is a national problem affecting everyone, not just her. Explain her rights to report spam to the reporting agencies. If her problem continues, and she is still getting offensive spam, invest is an anti-spam software program for her computer. Let her computer be the test unit. If the software works well, keep it in mind when the next person complains.
Placing part of the responsibilty on her to report it and you to try and filter it, should prove to any court that you are making a good faith attempt to correct the situation.

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Not here

by JamesRL In reply to Must be different in Oz, ...

In Ontario, and I believe the rest of Canada, though labour laws are generally provincial in jurisdiction, you cannot fire without cause. You can lay someone off, in which case you owe them severence (no severence required when you fired, but many do anyway to ensure you have less grounds to sue).

To fire you have to have grounds - incompetence is one, but hard to prove (the onus is on the employer to prove that they did everything possible to train and coach the employee). Another is violation of policies (have to prove that employee was aware of policy), another is gross misconduct.

The point is, you can't just fire someone in most jurisdictions, with the exception of some US states where the law has been changed to favour the employer.

James

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Just another reason working in Canada is better

by Oz_Media In reply to Not here

The list is endless James, but working in Canada is so much better than the USA. I came So close to packing up everything here and moving my business south, SO close. But when I closed my US interests instead, I was far better off.

Canadian employment law protects employees from bullish companies.

US law, protects bullish companies from mistreated and upset employees.

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But what do you really get?

by mgordon In reply to Just another reason worki ...

"Canadian employment law protects employees from bullish companies."

Perhaps that is why the United States is more or less de-facto ruler of the free world. Whether anyone likes it or not, government elevation of employees to something like miniature demi-gods does not bode well for business efficiency.

The obvious exception is when nearly all employees are hard working and honorable and business does not have to worry much about them. Vancouver, BC is quite a lot like other Pacific Northwest cities (I'm from that area) and the social situation is just not like the rest of the world. You just cannot export your ideas unless and until you can export your work ethic and culture.

Iceland is an example of a nation where social welfare works very well; but it is almost perfectly homogenous as to culture and race. You cannot export your ideas to the United States, or the former Soviet Union, and for the same reason -- a society that can barely be called a society with such extreme diversity of culture and value.

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90 day probationary period for new employees...

by UncleRob In reply to Not here

... allows you to let go of any new hires within 90 days of them being hired without any reason whatsoever. Since this is a new employee it may be applicable.

This happens in Winnipeg all the time, I've seen it personally (thankfully not to myself) at my own company and at others. I can't speak for other states or provinces, but I know how it works locally and it may be worth looking into at your end.

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True in Ontario but is it ethical?

by oldbag In reply to 90 day probationary perio ...

You will probably find that there is a probation period, actually up to 6 months but is this the correct approach? If the complaint is just about the pornographic email, then fix the problem.

The probationary period can be useful if the person is not fitting in other ways.

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Investigate and act

by wizardtranslations In reply to True in Ontario but is it ...

The issue here is not the spam.

The issue is that you have an employe who feels it's all right to threaten her company with a law suit for something that's got nothing to do with the company per se.

That's a BAD indicator. It tells you a lot about how she feels toward the company, and this ain't good. What else is she up to? Is she actually doing her job?

Has she realized she is supposed to help the society succeed, and that's why she gets a pay check at the end of the month?

If I was in your position, I would find out if she actually gets products on her job. (Is it worth it to have her on the job in the first place or was she hired because HR liked her looks?)

if she is a productive employe, I would call her in and show her the spam in my inbox. Then I would tell her it's a concern of mine as well, and that I would like her to help me find an cost effective solution.

Funny as it is, people can completely turn around when you ask them to help you.

If she turns out to be a real waste to the company (quite likely), I would get all the specifics/evidences and send her packing.

This complain is a warning signal that there is something wrong, and the "threat" part tells you that this girl means trouble. She could have just as well made her point without threats.

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common sense vs. pissing contests

by jacksdaddy1 In reply to Must be different in Oz, ...

Heeellllo: Are we talking about a little common sense here, or do we want to get into pissing contests about due diligence, expensive servers, right to fire, wrongful termination lawsuits, or some jerk telling a small business owner, who keeps expenses REAL low, who is obviously unsophisticated (spelling and typos)that "It took several months, several thousand dollars and a lot of studying algorhythms(sp) and creating heuristic lists." Lets get real here. Spam is most readily recognizable by the e-mail sender address and the subject line. If the subject line says "hot babes want your body," or "viagra cheap." How smart ya gotta be to figure out this is not a legitimate sales order from a usual customer. You just don't open it up. There is a teeny tiny little box there that says delete. You might have to teach the poor dear how to check a check box. (while you are at it, you can teach your pet fish how to swim) Am I suggesting that the lady in question might be a bit intellectually challenged? Oh dear me, of course not. The person who hired her in the first place is

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