The Jake Files

April 24, 2006

Judiciary Oversteps Authority Again

Filed under: Economy & Business,Judicial Activism — Amazing Jake @ 7:46 pm

This is disturbing:

 NEW YORK — Surfing the Web at work is equivalent to reading a newspaper or talking on the phone, an administrative law judge said in recommending the lightest possible punishment for a city worker accused of disregarding warnings to stay off the Internet.

The case involved Toquir Choudhri, a 14-year veteran of the Department of Education, whose office computer had been used to visit news and travel Web sites.

"It should be observed that the Internet has become the modern equivalent of a telephone or a daily newspaper, providing a combination of communication and information that most employees use as frequently in their personal lives as for their work," Administrative Law Judge John Spooner said in recommending only a reprimand for Choudhri.

The judge noted that city agencies allow workers to make personal calls if it doesn't interfere with their work performance.

Choudhri's lawyer, Martin Druyan, called the ruling "very reasonable."

OK, full disclosure here:  I've surfed the internet for non-business reasons on occasion um, periodically.  I've also fired employees for inappropriate internet use, including downloading porn and excessive non-business use after appropriate and repeated warnings.

According to the opening sentence of the article, the worker was

…accused of disregarding warnings to stay off the internet. (emphasis added)

So help me understand.  Do employers have the authority to set business rules for their workers when employees are A) on the clock, B) using company-owned resources (like computer equipment and internet access), and C) being paid to, um, actually WORK?  Especially after those workers have been WARNED not to continue behavior for which they've already been reprimanded?

Apparently not, at least if you're a municipal employee in New York.


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