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The porn and the Star: Why you need to get your email policies right

feature-hot-mail-200Another porn case and another decision!

Only two weeks ago a worker was reinstated to his position at Linfox because he did not understand the company’s social media policy. And just last week, an employee at Sydney's Star Casino lost his job for sharing pornographic content with others. He was not inducted or trained in the company’s email and internet policies.

He was extensively trained on other policies, including the code of conduct. His letter of offer referred to all policies and procedures, but no evidence was adduced that proved he was aware of the relevant IT policies.

The casino employee sought to be reinstated and gave evidence he did not comprehend English well at the time of his employment. He said he was never aware of the prohibition against sharing pornographic content.

There was evidence he did receive the code of conduct, which identified the policies and procedures, and which specifically precluded the transmitting or display of pornographic images.

The sharing of pornographic images was so common that when an investigation turned up multiple offenders, Star Casino formed a working group that decided, out of fairness, those who shared more than 10 such images would be summarily dismissed. The case gave scant regard to the arbitrary nature of this determination.

The Commissioner held:

  • There was a valid reason to terminate as the worker sent a significant volume of explicit pornographic images;
  • Much of it originated from his home computer;
  • It was a lengthy course of conduct;
  • There was a culture of people exchanging such emails and some of these people were supervisors and managers, but there was no condemnation of his activity;
  • Although no specific training had been provided on the key IT policy, the code of conduct was sufficient;
  • In any event, there is some kind of conduct in the workplace which cannot be engaged in as a matter of common sense; sharing hard-core pornography is one of them;
  • The arbitrary selection process, although not scientific, was not inherently unfair;
  • The inconsistency between those punished did not make it harsh and the selection process itself was unfair.

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