Update: You've Got Mail! . . . You're Fired!

Update (6/12/06): The New York Times has caught up with us on this issue and printed this story.
According to a recent survey of nearly 300 US firms with 1000 or more workers, almost one- third of companies have fired an employee in the last 12 months for e-mail related policy violations. More than half have disciplined employees for such reasons.

According to this Market Watch article describing the study, employers are really starting to grasp the notion that e-mail communications present significant liability risks to the company. As a result, nearly 40% of companies that answered the survey indicated that they employ staff members whose job description is toreview and analyze internal e-mail messages.

The message to employees could not be more clear: Do not consider anything communicated through e-mail to be private in any way! The rule of thumb I give all to my employee-side clients is to pretend that every e-mail message they write is being cc'd to their direct supervisor and the company's HR department. If you would not want these people to read your message, then it probably ought not be sent.(And in case you were wondering, YES, this applies to instant messaging too!)Categories: HRPolicies