It’s always wise to be aware of your employer’s policies about use of company computers, email, phones and other technology and equipment for non-work-related purposes. A vice president for the Fox Cable Networks Group learned that lesson the hard way. The Los Angeles executive, who worked in the standards and practices unit of the company, was fired after she used her Fox email account for fundraising communications.
The former executive says she was trying to help families of the 239 people on the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared somewhere between from Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. A spokesman for Fox said that they fired the woman, who had been with Fox for 25 years, because her “conduct and communications” violated their policy. The woman’s husband, a producer and writer, says that his wife plans to sue Fox for wrongful termination.
The woman, who says that she will continue her fundraising efforts through resources such as the GoFundMe website, contends that she is trying to help family get financial help more quickly than they would if they filed lawsuits. However, she says that those who accept money through her efforts will need to waive their right to sue for damages. She claims, “If they’re getting money through contributions, it isn’t right for them to seek money through legal channels, too.”
The woman and her husband’s inspiration to help the families came about in an unusual way. Her husband says that during a recent hospitalization in Los Angeles, he hallucinated about being with the Malaysian Airlines passengers. He says that prompted them to assist the families in any way they could.
Every company has different policies about use of anything that belongs to the business for communications, particularly if those communications give the impression that the company is supporting an activity. Many businesses can access any communication or activity done through its computers. Employees should never presume that anything done on a company computer network is private. It’s essential to review your employer’s policies and discuss them with your supervisor or human resources personnel if you have questions. Better yet, err on the side of caution and keep all non-work-related communications on your own computer and telephone.
Source: The Detroit News, “Fox executive fired over Flight 370 charity email” Frazier Moore, AP, Apr. 19, 2014