Human Resources News & Insights

Second job you wouldn’t want your employees to have

In this tough economy, it’s hardly unusual for people to look for second jobs to make ends meet. Example: A teacher advertised online that she was looking for extra work because her bills were piling up. Unfortunately, her ad was on the “casual encounters” section of a popular Web site. And her school computer was involved.

Update: The Columbus Dispatch has now reported that teacher, Amber Carter has resigned from her teaching position and pled not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of prostitution. Prosecutors are still reviewing a charge of unauthorized use of a computer that the sheriff’s office filed against Carter. HR Blunders’ original post on this story continues below.

Now, fourth-grade teacher Amber Carter has been charged with prostitution. She’s admitted she posted an ad on Craigslist and used a school computer to send an undercover officer e-mails arranging a meeting, according to the Logan County sheriff’s office.

And until her case moves further along in the legal system, she is still collecting her teacher’s salary of $56,000, even though the Bellefontaine, OH, school district has placed her on administrative leave.

Detectives say it appears Carter used her school computer to meet men and women and charge them $50 or $100 for various sex acts.

The investigation started when the local sheriff’s office received an anonymous e-mail saying a local woman was advertising sex services online, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

An undercover officer posed as an interested customer and exchanged 24 e-mails with Carter.

In an e-mail sent on a Monday at 9:07 a.m., well after school had begun for the day, she offered sex and suggested a time.

The next day, Carter took a half-day of sick leave and left work early. She was arrested shortly after noon.

The Dispatch obtained a recording of Carter’s meeting with the undercover officer. She took $50 in exchange for sex. (Caution: The recording contains explicit content.)

Work computer seized

Besides the prostitution charge, which is a misdemeanor, Carter faces a fifth-degree felony count of unauthorized use of property. Detectives have seized her school computer.

She has a spotless 13-year record with Bellefontaine schools. The district superintendent is quoted as saying he’d like to fire her now “but constitutional rights and due process come into play so the lawyers are proceeding properly.”

School district lawyers have suggested to Carter that she resign, but she hasn’t.

Was this an isolated incident for Carter? Sgt. Ryan Furlong doesn’t think so. He suspects Carter has been doing this for a while because “she was calm, cool and collected in that hotel parking lot. Not nervous at all. This wasn’t her first time.”

Certainly, this is an extreme case of an employee in financial trouble looking for an extra source of employment. Does your company have a policy about second jobs? What would happen if one of your employees used a company computer for a side business — even one that’s not illegal? Let us know in the Comments Box below.

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  1. What’s next?

  2. This story is months old but –

    Good policies, well worded will protect a company for the most part. Clearly define use of all company equipment to be for company use only – even on breaks and lunch, beofre and after work. Second job policies cannot deny all opportunities to employees but can clearly define against conflict of interest issues as well as legal versus illegal.

  3. This is a very concerning point with these troubled times which aren’t to get better before getting worse. What if it had nothing to do with the use of company or school equipment as in this case but was a second job that involved dance floors and shiny poles? Would a policy prevent “conduct unbecoming” to the school? When people become desperate, what may be legal may not be appropriate.

  4. So what, she is practicing the world’s oldest profession. They need to legalize prostitution anyway, what is the charge for prostitution, as simple misdemeanor? And what about that undercover police officer? Can you say entrapment?

    Maybe she gets her jollies by being a “proper” teacher during the day and a “naughty” call girl in the evening? Who are we to tell her she can’t?

    Ok, maybe using the school computer was a bad move, but doesn’t she have a “spotless” 13 year record, so obviously this doesn’t effect her professionally

  5. As long as she maintains no ties to the school (i.e. starting dressed with a school t-shirt) – legal employment cannot be restricted – unless it can be proven that her conduct irreparably damages the reputation of the school.

    You have to be careful because to firmly define “conduct unbecoming” will be very difficult and what some think as distasteful – others think to be normal. Even if you can firmly define “conduct unbecoming” you will have to try and apply that to very different situations. Remember that almost any one can find something offensive and unbecoming.

  6. Our policy states you can have a second job if it doesn’t interfere with your job at ABC Company and isn’t a conflict of interest. Obviously you may not receive any income for materials produced or services renedered while performing your job at ABC Company. Believe it or not, that has come up with us before. An employee was doing computer work for another company during the work day at our company (not during their unpaid lunch) and getting paid for both. They claimed they didn’t know that was against company policy.

  7. I’ve thought about taking a second job myself as I am a single mother but that’s not one I’d choose. I work for an automotive retailer and common sense would tell me that I couldn’t work for another dealer even as a receptionist. Where was HER common sense. I certainly wouldn’t want my son’s teachers prostituting. What a role model!

  8. Second jobs are hard to come by in this economy. She should have done it after hours, and on her own pc if that is what she decided to do to make ends meet.

  9. Mary – had that happen here too. Ended up in court. She was using her work phone to take orders for her (exterrnal) parts and equipment business. We fired and she sued, claiming that others sold Avon at work to co-workers who would sometimes call those other workers’ extensions to place Avon orders, so she shouldn’t be penalized for doing “essentially” the same thing. BIG policy re-write after that one.

    As for this woman, getting arrested and convicted of a crime would be a good test as to keeping her. If she didn’t get convicted, she should be able to stay at the school UNLESS she violated policy by using the computers for a non-work purpose and that violates a policy. You have to be able to show that any employment action against an employee is job-related. If there’s nothing in place about outside-of-work issues reflecting on the school, that will make a difference too.

  10. Logan Co HR says:

    I live in Bellefontaine, Oh and it’s a very embarassing thing. It’s a small town where kids still run through back yards in the community. I think there are jobs – such as teacher – that you have to be held to a higher standard. I would also assume conviction of this in ohio will bar her employment in this capacity. I have children who did attend that school and will again one day. I do not want her teaching my children.

  11. To Jacob:

    You’re missing the point. It’s not about whether prostitution should be legalized. I believe it should, but that’s neither here nor there. The fact that she used her employer’s resources to further her second career is the salient issue. That’s clearly wrong. Employer’s resources exist for employees to use to do their job as defined by the employer that provides the resources.

    With regard to entrapment, we need to know far more than the article tells us. Being under cover does not constitute entrapment. Entrapment only exists when the officer is the party that suggests the illegal activity. The fact that the teacher advertised her services in the section of a Web site that’s well known for it’s connection to prostitution goes a long way to suggest that it most likely wasn’t the officer that first suggested sex for money, but the story doesn’t give enough facts to be able to clearly state that entrapment existed.

  12. To Chris:

    I don’t believe I am missing the point.

    “Ok, maybe using the school computer was a bad move”

    And she should be reprimanded accordingly.

    And please spare me your naiveties when talking about police officers. We live in a policed state where law enforcement have far too much power over the general populace. If she was a seasoned performer as stated in the article she knows better than to suggest sex for money. It is up to the John to approach that topic…

    You want to know how to find a crooked cop? Pick up the phone and call the police station, it really doesn’t matter who answers…

  13. Hi Jacob:

    I’m not trying to change anyone’s political beliefs. I’m only saying that it’s just as wrong to jump to the conclusion that entrapment existed as it is to jump to the conclusion that entrapment didn’t exist. There’s not enough information in the article, regardless of ones belief that police officers are automatically in the wrong. It’s also pretty naive to think that the police officer in this case wasn’t just as seasoned. They’re trained pretty rigorously in how to avoid allowing any perception of entrapment to allow the judge to throw out the case on those grounds.

    I’m glad you concede that “maybe using the school computer was a bad move”. It’s more than a bad move, it’s a dismissible offense for every employer I’ve worked for in both the private sector and government.

  14. What about the small fact that if she was using the schools computer she was most likely doing it on their time.

    Hey Chris, thanks for the education on “that web site”. I had no idea it had any connection to prostiution.

  15. ChattyCathy says:

    You will all be happy to know that she finally resigned.

  16. Since we have comprehensive internet and computer usage policies, we would terminate her employment if she was doing this during work hours.

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