Business Ethics: Do you think it is morally acceptable an employer to read his or her employee's e-mail?

Essay by ophof33University, Master's April 2005

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Exploitation of company Internet and email was the single most widespread cause for punitive action within the State of Washington . The expenditure of exhausted hours and resources, not to mention the possibility for employees' online behavior to harm the company's character in the wider aspect, is encouraging many employers to accelerate the close watch of their staff. Not only has it become legal for employers to spy on their employees, but also it should be morally acceptable, as long as the employer informs the staff of the monitoring system in place.

Employers have to step cautiously through the legal minefield of surveillance, however, the dangers associated with doing nothing are even worse. The most understandable effect of email and Internet abuse are the hours of misplaced productivity. Writing personal emails to friends on company time, even where the subject is perfectly innocent, can take hours out of the working week.

In corporations with high-speed broadband Internet connections, employees might be able to download music or even movies and video clips. Not only does this elevate the substantial risk of a company unintentionally accumulating copyrighted media on its network, it also takes a massive amount of bandwidth from legitimate Internet activity.

Nevertheless copyrighted media is not the only potentially criminal substance that can loiter on commercial servers. Offensive matter, such as porn and sexist or racist messages, can exist on a staffs' computer long after the porn has been viewed or the messages sent. If this content is accidentally, or not, dispersed among many employees, there is a risk that one or more of the addressee's will be personally insulted. As employers are under a responsibility to present a safe and sound working environment, together with shielding people from bullying, racial and sexual harassment, businesses have to take every likely...