More Firms Crack Down on Nonbusiness E-Mail Usage by Employees

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS -- The brokerage Edward Jones & Co. demanded that workers admit it if they sent pornography or off-color jokes over the company e-mail system, then it fired 19 of them for failing to fess up.

Another 41 who came forward were disciplined, the company said Friday.

The action illustrates the heightened scrutiny that many companies are giving to what they perceive is an abuse of their electronic communications networks. "When people get Internet access at Edward Jones, they know the policy of the firm," said Mary Beth Heying, a spokeswoman for the brokerage. "It is not acceptable to use the Internet for nonbusiness- related purposes." Eric Greenberg, director of management studies for American Management Association, said more companies are snooping on their employees' e-mail and computer files. A recent survey of 1,054 companies by the New York-based business trade group showed 27 percent check employee e-mail, up from 20 percent in 1998. Of the businesses that monitor e-mail, 84 percent said employees were informed of the practice. The group has not tracked disciplinary actions taken against workers, but Greenberg believes it is on the rise. …


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