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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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Down here, viability of wrongful discharge suit would depend on the state.

by deepsand In reply to HOW completely wrong you ...

In "at will" states, the employer need not show cause as grounds for termination.

In such states both the employer and the employee are free to terminate thier relationship "at will."

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do please be aware of vastly different jurisdictions

by mgordon In reply to HOW completely wrong you ...

Many states in the United States allow a person to be fired for no reason at all; in fact, it is better to not give a reason in such cases. If the company is in such a state, and is a small business, it may well be cheaper to look for a different employee than to deploy expensive anti-spam AND its even more expensive administrator. It is just a thought; it would be better for everyone to use some kind of anti-spam, but this person seems intolerant.

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oh yeah - thats the way to avoid a lawsuit

by Shawn_W In reply to

Do not fire her, but dont assume that she has a brain either.

Has anyone actually explained to her that those emails are not being sent by anyone who works at the company?

She may think those emails are coming from a co-worker. The emails may even be addressed from a co-worker.

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Fire her for....

by inspector3500 In reply to

Fire her for looking at porn on company time and computers....

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You're prime for a lawsuit

by blarman In reply to

That type of attitude will get you a sexual harassment AND wrongful termination lawsuit (with possible negligence thrown in). The worst possible things you can do, in order are:
1) Fire her.
2) Ignore her.

If you fire her, you give her an ironclad case for wrongful termination (which still applies even in right-to-work states because it is FEDERAL law). You give her a substantial case for sexual harassment as she can argue that your permissive attitude led to a "hostile workplace."

If you ignore her complaints, you actually increase the probability of a sexual harassment suit because she will be able to demonstrate management's lack of proactivity.

The best way to handle it is to take her complaints seriously. Commend her for notifying them and then take action. Put her on the team for finding a solution (spam filter, etc.). This will not only eliminate any possibility for a lawsuit, but will make her feel better abou working for you.

Oh, and for any of you guys who suggested firing her, you are treading a VERY dangerous line of contributing towards a "hostile workplace." Permitting sexually related content that others fid offensive in the workplace is grounds for termination in the smart company because it lessens their liability for a sexual harassment suit. Most companies now have updated their employee policies to prohibit anything even close to sexual harassment as immediate grounds for temination. Be a man and respect women.

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its got nothing to do with not respecting women

by sasiv In reply to You're prime for a lawsui ...

its got nothing to do with not respecting women, any calls from people saying fire her are because she is obviously someone who will cause trouble the first chance she gets....two or three emails and shes calling sexual harrasment, please.

and i think we need to clarify, obviously if you are doing nothing at all to block spam and let through explicit email subject lines to staff then you deserve to get sued. But any cheap filter solution allows you to block rude words and variation of rude words from subject lines. That therefore eliminates any need for her to feel harrassed.

Turn off the reading pane, show her the delete key and explain to her how spam works (she obviously has no idea). I dont think you need to set up a special spam fighting team and spend thousands blocking every last scrap of spam.....and commending her for threatening to sue you, gimmie a break.

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You've obviously never been a party

by blarman In reply to its got nothing to do wit ...

to a harassment claim or been involved in the legalities. ANY hesitation by the company managers to PROMPTLY address sexual harassment is a huge legal liability. You MUST treat ANY alleged harassment IMMEDIATELY and SERIOUSLY.

The excuses that she's just going to complain later on about something else are IRRELEVANT to the sexual harassment claim. The idea of using complaints of illegality to judge someone's usefulness to the business is absurd, not to mention explicitly forbidden by law (whistleblower statutes). The attitude of treating her as a liability is what perpetuates poor management mentalities.

The point of sexual harassment law is that noone should have to deal with it in the workplace AT ALL. Turning off the preview pane is an unacceptable solution because it does absolutely nothing to address the root cause - and in legal terms this is known as not just negligence, but gross negligence.

People do not normally bring up sexual harassment to pick a fight. They do so because it genuinely affects them and their ability to maintain focus on their work. Sexual harassment is a huge distraction because of the psychological effects it has. Do your business and its employees a favor and treat sexual harassment seriously, or trust me you'll end up on the losing end of a lawsuit.

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YES.!.

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

Always, the answer is YES.!. At home, no-one cares. (unless you have a home-business). In any type of a business enviroment, it's tabu. (Just see the news head-lines from the last few days). Even if no-one complains, (that can & does change) have need to remember that ALL corespondence, records, (& just about anything else now) MUST be archived, and kept by law. (say ouch now) If 5 years from now, a request for ALL incomming trafic from yesterday is served, you'll have no control over who will see what you just viewed (ouch again, louder) If there is something missing, or a gap, (well, I removed it) you will be suspect of removing imformation. (stupidity is no deffence). -more than just my 2 cents here. -d

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What law?

by gralfus In reply to YES.!.

You say that all emails must be kept for 5 years by law. What law is that? Our policy is that no emails are kept past 1 month, unless the user archives them on a different server or drive. I don't know of any place that can permanently store the tremendous amount of emails that come in.

Since our policy states that we don't keep it beyond one month, we aren't responsible for keeping them beyond that period.

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depends on location

by dawgit In reply to What law?

in the US, you could start with SOX

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