Wednesday, March 4, 2020

What “Sexy Vixen Vinyl” teaches us about porn at work

If you’re Fox News reporter Brit Hume, you have a lot of explaining to do. Yesterday, the venerable journalist carelessly tweeted out his internet exploration of “Sexy Vixen Vinyl.”

Some would say Hume made an innocent mistake. Trying to share a story on updated election odds, he tweeted a photo of his screen forgetting about his list of open tabs. I’d say that the fact that he was looking at “Sexy Vixen Vinyl” at work eliminates any innocence in this mistake. That website simply has no place in the workplace, period.

That said, I can guarantee that Brit Hume is not the first employee in history to surf over to “Sexy Vixen Vinyl” on a work computer. This is as good a time as any, therefore, to review your “workplace pornography” policy. While you might not have this policy per se, you should have an “internet use” policy, which should address each of the following—
  1. What does your internet-use policy say, does it include prohibitions against pornography, and does it sufficiently and clearly explain that violations will result in discipline, up to and including termination?

  2. Do you block websites that might include adult material, or do you trust employees to their own devices? Keep in mind that if you opt for the latter, many adult websites are rife with malware, viruses, and other things that you likely don’t want on work equipment. Also keep in mind that if you opt for the former, you may need to provide for work-related exceptions (like an employment lawyer researching a case, and I speak from experience).

  3. If you are overly concerned that your workplace is rife with porn, you could opt for a porn audit, examining all of your technology assets for inappropriate material.

  4. Once you become aware of any pornography in the workplace, your obligation as an employer kicks in to promptly investigate and implement reasonable corrective action. Failure to act could subject you to a nasty and expensive sexual harassment lawsuit.

  5. Finally, if your investigation leads you to believe that the pornography involves illegal activity (e.g., children), immediately stop and call your lawyer, as this is a serious issue that needs serious treatment.