Employer’s Duty to Investigate Employees

Internet Endangerment

Employment law suggests an employer has a duty to investigate if it sees dangerous activities by an employee. One approach is for an employer to close its eyes, and hope it sees nothing that would give rise to an obligation to investigate.

But that approach is risky. After disaster happens, proving that the employer saw nothing is hard – especially when the clues are records stored on the employer’s computers. It’s better to be generally aware of what employees are doing through their computers. Employers have reason to monitor Internet usage for both pornography and other dangers.

A lawsuit titled Jane Doe v. XYZ Corporation, 887 A.2d 1156 (N.J. 2005), said an employer could be held responsible for injury to a child, where an employee was using his work computer to access child pornography on the Web. The New Jersey Supreme Court said the employer should have known of the employee’s illicit surfing and therefore should have informed the police. Had the police been informed, then the employee’s abuse of his step daughter at home might have been prevented.

In addition to pornography, an employer has incentive to monitor for other dangerous matters like weapons or illegal drugs.

–Benjamin Wright

Mr. Wright has teamed with Messaging Architects to educate employers about electronic records and eDiscovery.

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