Lawyers warn of the high cost of ignoring internet misuse

Managers
who fail to address the abuse of e-mail and internet by their employees could
be liable to punitive court actions, lawyers warn.

Employees
who use company e-mail to share offensive jokes or obscene images with friends
not only endanger their own jobs but the future of the business, according to
law firm Thorntons WS.

Celia
Muller, an employment law specialist with Thorntons WS, said too few employers had woken up to
the potentially disastrous effects of e-mail and internet misuse.

Speaking
at an employment seminar in Dundee,
Scotland,
Muller said firms needed to take e-mail and web security as seriously as they
do health and safety or fire prevention.

"Internet
and e-mail has transformed the way we do business and opened up myriad new
opportunities, but it has also exposed employers to a whole new field of
risk," she said.

"Employees
can, and sometimes do, send inappropriate messages to their colleagues using
e-mail, text messages from office mobile phones or other electronic
communication methods. If the messages amount to harassment on the grounds of
race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, they will be
unlawful.

"There
needs to be much greater awareness of the risks businesses can face and what
actions they must take to protect themselves," said Muller.

By Daniel Thomas

 

 

 

 

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