According to ZDNet News, an e-mail to the car maker’s 20,000 UK workers says, “The company reserves the right to conduct random audits of its computer resources.” It warns against “transmitting or possessing ‘jokes’ of an offensive nature, for example, content of which is sexually explicit, racially offensive or otherwise demeans people on the basis of their religion, disability, sexual orientation”.
OUT-LAW.COM’s David Hoey, an employment law specialist, said:
“This case is the latest example of employers seeking to introduce adequate control over staff in connection with non-work related e-mail and internet content. Employers may be found liable for discrimination caused by staff acting in the course of their employment, particularly where the employer has failed to take reasonable steps to prevent such discrimination.
“As there is no limit on the amount of compensation which can be awarded in such cases, employers must ensure that adequate control mechanisms exist within their organisation. Employers should introduce and maintain a suitable Communications Policy. Employers should, however, bear in mind the obligations imposed upon them in terms of data protection, interception of communications and human rights legislation.
“Employers must also act fairly when considering disciplinary matters, particularly where dismissal may be an option, and ensure that the correct procedures are followed to minimise unfair dismissal claims.”