Employee Monitoringposted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/26/2006 12:57:00 PM
Why Are Employees monitoring your email?
In its landmark 7-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employers are responsible for harassment — even if they are not aware that it is going on. Specifically, employers may be held liable if the employer “should have known of the conduct and fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.” (Burlington Industries v. Ellerth and Faragher v. City of Boca Raton)
The “should have known” standard is particularly troublesome when harassment involves email. How can a company know about every email message from its employees when thousands of messages are sent every day? Which messages should the company know about?
Sixty percent of companies monitor external (incoming and outgoing) e-mail as a way to protect against intruders, leaks, and offensive content. However, only 27% monitor internal messages (employee to employee messages), but that number is steadily growing as more and more companies are facing e-mail harassment suits.
The liability for not knowing about email harassment can be substantial.
The good news is that the U.S. Supreme Court said that penalties and fines could be lessened if the companies exercised “reasonable care” to prevent and correct harassment. (Burlington Industries v. Ellerth and Faragher v. City of Boca Raton)
Many harassment suits are now focused on whether companies exercised "reasonable care." Many companies compound their risk by the mistakes they make when handling email. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take.