Apr 132011
 April 13, 2011  Posted by  Non-U.S., Workplace

Blake Lapthorn writes about a UK case:

Can an employer discipline or dismiss an employee who sends an offensive email from their home computer to a colleague’s home computer? An Employment Tribunal (ET), in a non-binding decision, has found that in one case the employee could have no expectation of privacy and that his dismissal was fair.


The ET considered whether the employee’s right to a private life under the Human Rights Act 1998 was engaged, bearing in mind the email was sent between home computers outside office hours. It concluded that the email’s heading “It is your duty to pass this on” meant that the email was not intended to be private, that employee was aware it was likely to be passed on and would have no control over whether it was. The ET’s conclusion is interesting for employers, although it is not binding on other Employment Tribunals, and particular aspects of it may mean it does not apply to all offensive emails sent between home computers.

More on Lexology.

Well, if employees can be disciplined or terminated for what they post on Facebook during their own time and from their own computer, why not this, right?  Although is that the case in the UK as much as it is here?  I can see where home-home emails could potentially create a hostile work environment, so this particular finding doesn’t seem really outrageous to me.  But where will the line finally be drawn?

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