Porn at work is bad news with or without an acceptable use policy

Knowing that you should not distribute hard core pornography at work is ‘common sense’ according to Fair Work Australia as reported recently in the article below. More importantly they also concluded that although the employee in question had not received specific training as to acceptable usage of IT resources he could still be dismissed.

It is clear that organisations are increasingly not tolerating this behaviour and taking measures both via technology and formal policies to manage and eradicate it.

Distributing hard core porn is a valid reason for dismissal even in the absence of relevant training

Fair Work Australia (FWA) has held that an employee’s distribution of hard core pornography to colleagues provided a valid reason for his dismissal, even though he may not have received specific training regarding the information technology policy prohibiting the conduct.

The employer conducted an internal investigation into the email accounts of certain employees.  The employer decided that employees who had sent 10 or more emails containing hard core pornography, from 1 January 2010, would be summarily dismissed.  The employee was dismissed after the employer discovered that he had sent to other employees (mostly from his home computer) approximately 50 emails containing hard core pornography.  The employee applied to FWA for reinstatement.

FWA noted that the conduct had occurred over an extended period of time and although there appeared to have been a workplace culture of exchanging inappropriate emails (including by supervisors and managers), there was no evidence of any “wider culture… [or] condonation”.  The employee had been informed as to where policies could be accessed and, in any case, this was “conduct which as a matter of common sense should not be engaged in in the workplace”.