Can companies restrict their employee's email use?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by fivepoint, Aug 11, 2008.

  1. fivepoint macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #1
    My wife is heading back to school this fall. She is a elementary teacher. During one of her first day school meetings she was told that no employee of the school was allowed to use email for ANY personal purposes whatsoever. Emails are only allowed for intra-office use and discussions between teachers and other school employees. Emails going out of the building are to be sent to students' parents only. The internet is restricted to research use only for classroom lessons.

    To me, this seems unfair and a breach of an employees rights. As long as the employees aren't abusing the system... what is the problem? Am I wrong on this one? Can a company (public OR private) completely restrict outside communication over the computer?
     
  2. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #2
    Yes.

    It's their computers, their servers, and their internet connection. They have every right to restrict it to whatever they want.
     
  3. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    "Between the Hedges"
    #3
    Yes they absolutely can, and most do

    Nothing done at work is private, and it is subject to be read
    All internet activity can (and most likely will) be tracked and can be grounds for discipline and dismissal

    Woof, Woof - Dawg [​IMG]
     
  4. r.j.s Moderator emeritus

    r.j.s

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Location:
    Texas
    #4
    If they are providing the email for that use, as well as the computers and, then yes. A company is well within its rights to restrict the use of services provided to its employees.
     
  5. mwchris macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Location:
    Kentucky
    #5
    As most have said this is completely within their rights. Have your wife bring home a copy of the schools (most likely districts), Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), which describes in detail what users can and cannot do. I am sure she signed one, maybe at the beginning of her time at that school district, at some point or another.

    And, of course you could always do what I do - have the same employeer as your significant other, and always put something in there about work! ;)
     
  6. m-dogg macrumors 65816

    m-dogg

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2004
    Location:
    Connecticut
    #6
    Yes. They make the rules.

    My work actually blocks all web-based personal email sites.

    And while we can use our business email for personal reasons, they tell us that that the emails sent to/from our business email are property of the company (and that they can read them if/whenever they want to). So no naughty emails! :p
     
  7. gonyr macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2006
    Location:
    Niagara County, NY
    #7
    I'm sure they have a filter for web usage. For email, it seems implausible that anyone is actually checking every incoming and outgoing email for solely work-related content. My school has the same written policy, which is routinely ignored. The unofficial policy has been to keep everything within reason - checking weather or news is ok, shopping on ebay isn't. Emails have never been a problem, as long as people aren't forwarding jokes to the whole district. As somebody pointed out already, they own the computers, so they make the rules. It's up to your wife whether to follow them. She should find out if anybody is actually monitoring, and what the consequences are to breaking the rules. At my school, as long as everybody behaves like professional adults and doesn't abuse the system, there are rarely problems.

    Edit: I forgot to mention, she shouldn't ever email parents about students. If anybody else reads the email, there is a violation of privacy rights. Email to parents should only be used to set, confirm, or cancel meetings or phone calls. Same thing goes for emailing other staff members about students. Do everything in person or over the phone - never by email.
     
  8. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #8
    This is becoming more common.

    Many places restrict access to popular e-mail web sites such as Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc.

    That is why an iPhone type device is so handy. Just do your personal stuff on it when at work. Besides why would you want to air your personal laundry on the company Intranet?
     
  9. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #9
    Just to be accurate -- a company may NOT infringe on an employee's privacy unless the employee has agreed to a policy. Which is why most employment contracts include language to cover non-protection of private communications and restrictions on use of company resources as a condition of employment. The company also has obligations -- the policy should ALSO include what steps the company takes to keep the employee's personal information private from others - it cuts both ways.

    Employers and small business owners out there -- do not assume that your business property rights naturally override the personal and civil rights of your employees or contractors. Make sure you spell it out in the contract and/or employee policy manual and have each worker sign off on it.
     
  10. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #10
    I'm sorry but employees have no rights when it comes to work-issued computers, e-mail, and internet access. As she was most likely asked (required) or will be asked (required) to sign an IT agreement that will state exactly what the policy is and what actions will be taken if she were to breach said policy.

    I personally cannot find any great reason why I would use my work e-mail address for anything that wasn't work-related. I have surfed the net (posted here, went to ebay, craigslist, etc) while at work. Personal e-mail was blocked ages ago when we had a major data breach that was detected and lead to someone's personal e-mail account, so I just use my cell phone for such antics. Besides, half the **** I say in e-mail I certainly wouldn't want that to be read by my work. :)
     
  11. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

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    Mar 20, 2004
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    #11
    Even my work issued Blackberry restricts Gmail, et. al.

    Woof, Woof - Dawg [​IMG]
     
  12. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #12
    "work issued" so yep. only what they want and allow.
     
  13. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Colorado
    #13
    Agreed.
     
  14. scotty96LSC macrumors 65816

    scotty96LSC

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2007
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    #14
    We had one of our senior programmers let go for just this reason. It was in the employee handbook not to use company equipment for personal use. He did, he got kicked.
     
  15. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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    Location:
    Colorado
    #15
    Well, there is your problem!;)
     
  16. emmawu macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2005
    Location:
    Wauwatosa, WI
    #16
    Absolutely! Most companies count your keystrokes and check if you are sending company related emails. You can be fired for going over the line and won't be able to collect unemployment either. Be very very careful with company email.

    My husband brings his own computer to work, a MacBook Pro. If you are using company equipment, it's their rules. :(
     
  17. fivepoint thread starter macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #17
    Dawg,
    The concern was not that that they were tracking it. They can track it all they want... nothing bad there. But it seems strange and a bit 'over the top' that they would keep my wife from sending me a few emails during the day. It seems on par with telling employees that they aren't allowed to use the phone during the day.

    Everyone,
    Thanks for the responses. I have to say, I was a bit surprised. I mean, I completely understand that it's their computers, their servers, and all that jazz... but it seemed crazy to me that they could basically say "you have no right to contact or have conversations with anyone outside of these 4 walls during the day". I guess I get that it's their "right" to restrict it as such, but it just seems over the top restrictive, unprofessional, and just plain crazy. They should monitor traffic all they want and punish those abusing the system, but not take away the benefits of good teachers doing a great job who want to send a few emails to their husband during the day. Agreed?

    Changed it. Thanks. ;)
     
  18. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #18
    No I don't agree if they have an IT policy then they have a policy. It's at-will employment and quite frankly, while it is cute that she and you wish to send e-mails that are probably very innocent, I think you two may want to resort to emails from cell phones or text messages. I mean if talking isn't a possibility.

    From an employer's standpoint: you're here to do a job. End of story.
    From en employee's standpoint: I can do my job quite well even if I send a few personal e-mails.

    I can see both ways but all in all it's policy and my job is way more important than sending a personal e-mail.

    It's rough but more and more companies are locking things down but again, cell phones and such work wonders. ;)
     
  19. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    "Between the Hedges"
    #19
    Most companies write the policy to be STRICT,
    and they seemingly tolerate nothing

    However, the enforcement of it is usually more lenient than that

    In most cases, innocent emails will not send up a red flag and trigger discipline...
    even though it violates "policy"

    But, why take the chance?
    If they choose to enforce it, they can
    Get unlimited texting on your phones or get iPhones/Blackberrys


    Woof, Woof - Dawg [​IMG]
     
  20. fivepoint thread starter macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #20
    Thanks for the information and perspective, guys. I sincerely appreciate it.
     
  21. JML42691 macrumors 68020

    JML42691

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2007
    #21
    Yes they do have every right to do this, it is not a violation of an employee's rights as in this case the employee is attempting to access the internet through the school's computers, servers, and most importantly, by means of the school's internet, which they are paying for. And in this case the employees would be abusing the system just by accessing private emails or other sites, as the school determines the "system." I would not risk my job with something like this, if she really wants to access private emails or any other websites that are for personal use, then get her an iPhone, unless if the school has a policy against teachers using phones during school hours, or by accessing private emails during school hours, something else that they have control over.
     
  22. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    Jul 19, 2002
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    キャンプスワ&#
    #22
    I know of some places that will only allow a company issued Thumb Drive to be connected to the computer.

    If caught using a personal Thumb Drive (basically any Thumb Drive not issued to you) you will be fired.

    Basically in a nutshell, these days if you are using company equipment, they have a lot of say in how your use it. One reason is security.
     
  23. JNB macrumors 604

    JNB

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2004
    Location:
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    #23
    That's a computer owned by the public (taxpayers) she's using, not hers. Keep in mind that school districts, government agencies, and public companies all have varying federal and state data retention and disclosure requirements. The wife's personal email could end up being subpoenaed or subjected to an FOIA request even if unrelated to the discovery.
     
  24. dmr727 macrumors G3

    dmr727

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    #24
    Wow - it's been a long time since I've been a code monkey, but apparently times have changed!
     
  25. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #25
    In a nutshell, they have.
     

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