Managers and HR pros know the Internet can create a big productivity dip. But where should the line be drawn?
That’s the question the National Parks Service (NPS) recently faced after a top official was found to be viewing inappropriate images on his work computer.
The Department of the Interior (DOI) conducted an investigation after John A. Latschar, superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park, was accused of criminal and ethical misconduct.
The investigation included a forensic search of Latschar’s computer. Apparently, he was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing — but investigators did discover that Latschar had made a habit of viewing pornography at work. In fact, the evidence showed he’d viewed a total of 3,456 inappropriate images over a two-year period.
Like most employers, the NPS has a policy against that type of Internet use. Was Latschar fired? At first, no — he says he was given a five-day suspension without pay.
But after the Washington Post wrote about an internal memo discussing Latschar’s “significant innapropriate user activity,” the penalty got much stiffer. Latschar is now being demoted to a desk job, which means he’ll lose the prominent post he held for 15 years.
What was the better course of action — the original suspension or the demotion? Or, should Latschar have just been fired?
Over two years, 3,400 images averages to about eight to ten images a day — probably wasting less time than a lot of your employees do checking Facebook, shopping online or whatever else they do on the Web. But the obvious difference is the content Latschar was viewing, which could have put the company at risk for a sexual harassment charge.
What’s your company’s policy on innapropriate Web browsing? How would you have handled a situation like this? Let us know in the comments section below.