Internet Usage at Work
The widespread use of the Internet and e-mail has transformed the way business is controlled in the typical American workplace. Written communication to almost anyone in the world now can be completed nearly instantaneously. Information about any subject encountered in a daily job task can be retrieved in seconds from the Internet through multiple search engines. These technological developments have benefited employers and employees alike, employers in accomplishing business goals and employees in performing their duties. But when it comes to internet usage a business must make sure that company policies are followed and the employee’s work product does not suffer as a result of unwarranted internet usage.
Without a doubt, the Internet and e-mail also have given employees a new way of escaping briefly from long days at the office. What sports enthusiast, for example, hasn't taken a quick peek at ESPN.com on the Internet during working hours to see the latest sports news? Who hasn't interrupted his or her work for a moment to send a quick note to a friend about the coming weekend's social events? Even a post on Twitter or a Blog about the company or an employee can lead to legal consequences.
A substantial percentage of employees appear to believe that employers should not have the right to monitor workplace e-mail and Internet use. The law, however, has answered differently to this point. Employees often mistakenly believe that their use of the Internet and e-mail at the workplace is private when, in fact, courts have found no reasonable expectation of privacy in such use and have consistently permitted employers to monitor and review employee activity. (Muhl, 2003) Employers have the right to monitor internet usage and therefore the employees who spend a lot of time online may be putting their jobs at risk. Also, when an employee uses a business email address, they are basically agreeing to have their email communications monitored if the company monitors emails.
Think of the legal implications of a Twitter post like this, from a proud employee: “To you naysayers, our disc brakes are fine. I’m an e...