Louisville Employment Lawyer Discusses Personal Emails and Texting at Work
Personal emails and texts sent while working is common issue in unemployment hearings. Employers are cracking down on personal texting, emails and internet usage by employees on the job. In fact, before laying off employees, many employers first try to reduce staff by looking for people they can fire. Abuse of the “Electronic Use” policy is often one of the first areas employers review. Unfortunately, Employees are still surprised to find their employment has abruptly ended.
Employers realize that the policy has not been regularly enforced and is frequently ignored. To get decrease their employees without a layoff employers often send out a reminder about the policy and then begin quietly writing-up employees. Employees often do not take these warnings seriously and are surprised to find themselves fired. Discharged employees often argue that while they may have a lot of texts or emails, “It only takes a few seconds for each.” or “Everybody does it! I still get all my work done!” However, when those same discharged employees look at all of the personal emails, posts, texts etcetera, they find that those few seconds often results in thirty minutes to an hour a day on personal email and texting. Keep in mind that if you spend just 10 to 15 minutes a day on personal texting and emails, using an average work year (excluding vacations and holidays) of 48 weeks and a 5 day work week this results in the loss of 60 hours of time each year for which you have been paid. This is why employers are trying to put a stop to these abuses and why so many people are finding themselves unemployed and trying to get unemployment benefits.
How does the employer prove policy violations? First, they simply check emails and internet usage on their server under a particular individual’s password. In the case of texting, they either observe, use cameras to record or, if they are paying for the cell phone, check those records. Remember if your employer provides the equipment or you are using their server, they have access. In an unemployment case, you will want to focus on such things as a failure of the employer to follow its progressive disciplinary policy or if it is truly a situation where everyone does it, you will have to show that other employees spend at least as much time as you did on personal texting and emails while on the clock and they have not been disciplined or discharged. This is not always easy but not impossible.