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Angelskates
05-25-2010, 01:02 AM
Per my employers, using non approved websites on their computer exposes them, their proprietary software and their clients to hackers, viruses, malware etc. My point is, some people are rather down on the OP and she did ask for opinions. But I find it ironic to criticize one type of action when some posters are clearly guilty of other infractions their employers would also frown on. And which is the worst offense will vary based on the employer.

mylittlepony, could you get fired for accessing FSU at work? What if you were found accessing confidential business information (say in a locked filing cabinet)? I know you have access to others' email, but what if it was a confidential file?

I work for myself. If any of my staff are ever caught reading or accessing any confidential information (which there is a lot of, not just business files, but psych reports etc.), they will be fired immediately. Accessing non-work related websites can be done in break times only, and there's a limited on those sites too. If they access non-work sites in working hours, they get three warnings before being fired.

The fact is, the OP knew what she was doing was seriously wrong. She closed the email when her boss saw her, she lied about it more than once. She freaked out because she did understand what she was doing was not allowed, and I think she freaked out so much because she knew just how much it wasn't allowed. If people surf the internet at work, they need to be willing the suffer the consequences (if there are any) for breaking the rules, just as BaileyCatts does.

heckles
05-25-2010, 01:08 AM
I think BaileyCatts' HR department is not trying to see if they can fire BaileyCatts for the breach, more likely they are trying to cover their arses in case they're sued, like Prancer mentioned. Whether BaileyCatts read all of the emails she gave herself access to or not, I don't know if it's able to be determined, but she could have - and that is a massive legal headache for HR.


They may be trying to determine if employee SSNs, DOBs, health insurance numbers, family information and other personal info were in the HR e-mails, and warning these employees accordingly.

numbers123
05-25-2010, 01:18 AM
Cupid, I think that you might find the article that WindSpirit posted in this thread (http://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/showpost.php?p=2769233&postcount=120) as an eye opener as to what your employer might be watching for.

I used to teach the orientation class on appropriate use of employer granted computer log ins. I can also tell you that I worked with people who were fired over accessing information that they should not have been reading. And someone who was fired for using the email system to invite people to a tupperware party.

BelleBway
05-25-2010, 01:20 AM
What exactly can an employer see? They have an off-site IT company on call that they use for computer bugs and repairs, etc. So if they asked IT to search everybody's internet surfing, will it just show the websites you visit? Will it show your postings? Can they find out your passwords for your personal email accounts and read your email? I believe that I am not the only one who surfs a greater part of the day.

I don't know about anywhere else, but we can see the URL's and titles of sites that people visit along with the time they went to those sites. If someone is doing a search (google/yahoo/wikipedia), we can see what they are searching for because that is part of the URL/title. I know this because we have been monitoring the activity of one of our employees. :shuffle: We can also see the total length of time during the day that the web browser was the active window.

I can't say whether there is a reasonable way that your company could get your personal logins/passwords, but I am sure that would be much more difficult to accomplish. Same with reading personal emails. If they know your login name to FSU, they could certainly read your posts but I seriously doubt they'd have any interest in doing that.

FWIW I am perfectly up front with everyone at my office that I visit personal sites such as FSU during work hours. I get my work done in a timely manner and get it done well- and at my company, they don't care about your internet usage if everything else is ok. The employee we are monitoring has not been performing at the level we want. (and is not aware that we are actively monitoring his usage) Each company's policies will be different.

my little pony
05-25-2010, 01:27 AM
mylittlepony, could you get fired for accessing FSU at work? What if you were found accessing confidential business information (say in a locked filing cabinet)? I know you have access to others' email, but what if it was a confidential file?



theoretically, I could be fired for anything, I suppose most people could

The only time I ever got in trouble at work in my life was when I was going to the 06 Olympics and I was on FSU a lot in the daytime, I bought some of my tickets from FSUers and was PMing a lot. I was presented with a stack of my internet use that looked like the tax code. I was so embarassed I could have fired me myself.

The only types of files that I think we consider confidential would be related to someone's work performance, HR file etc. I lock those with a seal that means that no one else but the intended recipient can open it because I know no matter who I send something to, someone else is probably in their email at least on occasion.

Prancer
05-25-2010, 01:34 AM
But I find it ironic to criticize one type of action when some posters are clearly guilty of other infractions their employers would also frown on. And which is the worst offense will vary based on the employer.

But so does the concept of an infraction. I can surf the net at will at work and my only restriction is that I am not allowed to download anything to the hard drive on a school computer. OTOH, I know people who aren't allowed any internet access at all.

And so it goes.

But getting into HR stuff is potentially dangerous anywhere, and it doesn't much matter whether it's email, a file or a piece of paper that ended up in the wrong place. Companies have an obligation to maintain the confidentiality of some information; they cannot afford to take even a non-critical breach of that confidentiality lightly.

FiveRinger
05-25-2010, 01:42 AM
I have been lurking in this thread for quite a minute. I have been hesitant to respond because this is such a touchy issue. I really feel for B.C. I have been in a similar situation (oddly enough related to Internet use at work), and it was the only time in my life that I was ever terminated from a job. The whole experience hurt my feelings tremendously, but I learned a lot from it.

As sad as it is to say, whether or not B.C. intentionally looked at her boss's email is irrelevant. The fact is that she accessed it, with or without his permission, and she was caught. Period. The way that her boss interpreted this is why the situation is getting so much attention in HR, and I hate to say it, but I think it really is going to boil down to what he thinks whether or not she should be terminated. It all started with him and his response to her behavior. He could have very easily had a discussion with her and ended it at that point, but he immediately chose to get HR involved in the situation. That alone makes me know that B.C.'s boss didn't have her in the same high regard that she had him in.

I need some clarification, though? I am not understanding how an employee can have access to her boss's email if he didn't give it to her. Am I missing something? If he had done secured his own information, something that everyone at every company that I have ever worked at, is told to do, and more importantly, is told that they are responsible for, how did she ever get into his email in the first place?

The fact the HR took her laptop makes me believe that the intent is to terminate. They are looking in her computer for any other evidence of security violation, including excessive internet use. This is one of the reasons that I always tell people it's not even what you're looking at or doing on the internet while you are at work, it is the amount of time that you spend doing whatever it is that you shouldn't be doing. A company can always site "excessive internet use" as grounds for terminating a good employee. You might not be looking at porn or applying for other positions, but, in all honesty, can you really say that you are working if you spend hours a day lurking here (just an example)? It happened to me, and several other people that I know. A company may not be able to get you on the original intended offense, but all IT needs is a couple hours looking at what you do/have done over a certain period of time, and they can call anything they want to call "excessive", especially if they have an Internet policy that forbids Internet use. But, companies always give their employees access. Warning: This is the easiest way to terminate an employee.

I say all of this to say that if B.C. was an introverted employee who doesn't have a great relationship with fellow employees and has been with the company for 20 years is fighting an uphill battle. The company is thinking it will take its chances with a younger employee who might be more outgoing and definitely be willing to work for less money.

I hope that I am wrong about all of this. Believe me, I sympathize. I know how hard it is to let go of a job. I didn't work for the company that fired me for 20 years, but the effects stuck with me for months. It took a long time to get over it. But, in the end, I took the opportunity to return to school. Even though I just recently graduated, I know in the long run, that was the best outcome. No one wants to work under the scrutiny you will be under if you keep your job.

genevieve
05-25-2010, 02:41 AM
I need some clarification, though? I am not understanding how an employee can have access to her boss's email if he didn't give it to her. Am I missing something? If he had done secured his own information, something that everyone at every company that I have ever worked at, is told to do, and more importantly, is told that they are responsible for, how did she ever get into his email in the first place?

Hopefully BC will come in and clarify, but the way it sounded to me (back from page 1 or 2), when she got this new boss a year and a half ago, she set her assistant settings (I'm guessing this was done on his computer) for his Outlook the way she had always done with previous bosses, and that included email. If this is how it went, I'm guessing BC was doing what she'd always done, with no reason to expect it was wrong, and the new boss didn't know that she had given herself access to his email, because they did not discuss it at the time.

Fast forward 18-ish months and he's not only seeing email on her screen that he didn't send to her, he's (I think) learning right now that she's had access to his email all along. Add in BC's response to being caught (lies, defensiveness, complete meltdown requiring staff nurse) and it is reasonable to assume that he now thinks she's been deliberately reading his email all along, whether it's true or not.

If everything played out the way BC has said, I feel for her. When you've worked in a place for a very long time, you get into your routine and I can see how she wouldn't bat an eye at giving herself the same permissions as she had for the previous boss. OTOH, I think it is reasonable for the new boss to think all security access is handled by HR, not his assistant, unless there was a conversation in which he was told that she would be setting her own permissions for his mail. And when he told her he did not want her to manage his mail, she heard something different (one less thing I need to worry about) than he meant (keep out of my email).

Unfortunately, it's hard to unravel a misunderstanding like that after so much time has passed. And as many have said, BC's reaction has done her no favors. It is really bizarre that they are taking so long to determine how to proceed, but the fact that she isn't allowed to come back to work while they are figuring it out isn't a good sign. I echo the hopes that she is using the time to look for an employment lawyer to review whatever documents she may be asked to sign, to brush up her resume, and to start a job search.

Prancer
05-25-2010, 03:13 AM
Hopefully BC will come in and clarify, but the way it sounded to me (back from page 1 or 2), when she got this new boss a year and a half ago, she set her assistant settings (I'm guessing this was done on his computer) for his Outlook the way she had always done with previous bosses, and that included email. If this is how it went, I'm guessing BC was doing what she'd always done, with no reason to expect it was wrong, and the new boss didn't know that she had given herself access to his email, because they did not discuss it at the time.

Well, BC, DID say in her initial description of what happened:

When I started working for him, its just habit that I give myself access to everything on the delegate box, but when he said he didn't want me managing his email, I just never went into it, but I still had the access.

http://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/showpost.php?p=2756755&postcount=11

And then later she said:

I can't remember if I specifically asked him if I should have access to his email, or I just automatically did it and asked him later and he said no he would manage, and then I never went back and removed it. So maybe he knew and maybe he didn't.

So at some point it must have been discussed and at that point he told her he did not want her managing his email. And I think that might have had a lot to do with his reaction.

But again, there is a lot that none of us know about this situation.

Aussie Willy
05-25-2010, 03:24 AM
It could be that if he didn't want her to access the email, then a request should have been sent to IT asking them to take the access off. Just not looking at it is probably not going to stand up if questioned about it.

On the other hand, the manager should request to IT that access is not required.

Prancer
05-25-2010, 03:49 AM
It could be that if he didn't want her to access the email, then a request should have been sent to IT asking them to take the access off. Just not looking at it is probably not going to stand up if questioned about it.

On the other hand, the manager should request to IT that access is not required.

IT had nothing to do with it; BC set up the Outlook access herself.

He should have removed BC from his delegates or specifically told her to remove herself rather than saying he would manage his email himself. That is a matter of "he said/she said," however, and BC has said that her memory of that conversation isn't clear. Apparently it is common practice for admins to have access to their boss's Outlook accounts in BC's experience, so I wouldn't think IT would be involved.

Her boss may very well be in a boatload of trouble over this, too; we don't know what's going on there. But if he was expected to handle confidential matters, he would be expected to control access as well.

arena_gal
05-25-2010, 03:57 AM
I'm intrigued by this thread in lots of ways. I've been through a lot of corporate employee situations involving layoffs and firings and employees kept on remediation/probation plans, or employees job shifted sideways, how interesting that they always got job shifted sideways into a group that later gets laid off.

Always keep in mind that HR works for the company, not the employee.

I'm thinking they might be consulting for a legal opinion which is taking time. The last one I was part of, it took 14 days to issue a letter that had been vetted by legal.

Jenny
05-25-2010, 01:24 PM
However, if an employee sees confidential employee information in HR records without proper authorization, the company can be sued for allowing to to happen.



Her boss may very well be in a boatload of trouble over this, too; we don't know what's going on there. But if he was expected to handle confidential matters, he would be expected to control access as well.

This has been my suspicion as well, and his traveling could be part of the reason this is dragging out.



Always keep in mind that HR works for the company, not the employee.


Absolutely.

skatesindreams
05-25-2010, 07:14 PM
BC, I'm sorry for all the stress which (I'm sure) this is still causing you.
Make sure that you have competent legal advice, to protect yourself.

Please, update us, when you can.

Aimless
05-25-2010, 07:35 PM
I've been lurking here too and my heart goes out to BC. It's easy to imagine myself in such a situation and hard it would be. But I thought the real problem here was not so much that BC had access to her boss's mail and was looking at it (that should have been, and is, explainable) but that she denied she was looking at it, and actually lied about it in a moment of weakness. That's the breach in trust, I thought.

I think the delay in resolution, BC, is a hopeful thing, but I can imagine that the waiting and wondering is rough.