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Computer Use & Social Media

US in-house counsel surveyed on key labour and employment law issues facing their organizations

Jurisdiction: - United States

Jackson Lewis, a labour and employment law firm with 46 offices throughout the United States, has released the results of a Workplace Survey it conducted of in-house counsel at large and medium size companies across the US.

The survey asked the in-house lawyers about trends and practices in their organizations. As set out in Jackson Lewis' June 18, 2010 press release, among the most notable findings from the survey were:  read more »

"Privacy In Practice: Top 10 Workplace Q&As"

Andrea York, a lawyer at Blakes, wrote a paper entitled, "Privacy In Practice: Top 10 Workplace Q&As" for the Six-Minute Employment Lawyer conference that was presented by The Law Society of Upper Canada in Toronto on June 15, 2010. 

The 10 questions she addresses are:  read more »

"Untangling The Web: Social Networking in the Workplace"

Melanie D. McNaught at Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti LLP in Ontario presented a paper called "Untangling The Web: Social Networking in the Workplace" at the firm's June 11, 2010 client seminar. The paper addresses the following four questions of interest to employers:

 read more »

"Privacy Topics in Labour Relations"

Lorene A. Novakowski with the assistance of Kelly Duggleby, both of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP in Vancouver, wrote a paper entitled, "Privacy Topics in Labour Relations" for the Labour Relations Conference - 2010 (Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia) (June 2010).

The paper addresses the following:

  • Recent Privacy Cases of Interest in Labour Relations

    • Background Checks
    • GPS
    • Video Surveillance on the Picket Line
    • Access Request to Unions
  • Access and Privacy Issues: The White Paper of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia A Guide for Tribunals
  • Charter Values and Surveillance Should Doman Finally be Abandoned

Mandatory reporting of child pornography in Canada

Jurisdiction: - Alberta - Manitoba - Nova Scotia - Ontario

In an April 2009 post, I reported on the pending legislation in Ontario - Bill 37 - which will amend the Child and Family Services Act (Ontario) and imposes a positive obligation on any person in Ontario, including employers and employees, to report child pornography.

An article in the May 3, 2010 edition of the Canadian HR Reporter - which recently landed on my desk - points out that Ontario is just one of four Canadian provinces to take action in this regard. To summarize from the article (and other sources):  read more »

"Monitoring employee e-mail: a privacy primer"

Jurisdiction: - Canada/Federal - Manitoba

Lawyer Brian Bowman and articling student Andrew Buck, at Pitblado LLP in Winnipeg, prepared "Monitoring employee e-mail: a privacy primer" for the December 2009 CBA National Privacy and Access Law Section Newsletter. The article focuses largely on the  federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

Ban in BC on electronic devices while driving will be in effect as of January 1, 2010

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia - Ontario - Quebec

Following the lead of seven other provinces - including Ontario and Quebec - BC is introducing a ban on the use of electronic devices while driving effective January 1, 2010.

My former colleagues at Lawson Lundell LLP have prepared a bulletin that provides an overview of the rules and outlines the steps that employers should take in response to the ban. The bulletin can be read here.

US Supreme Court to decide if privacy rights covered worker's personal text message on employer's equipment

Jurisdiction: - United States
Sector: - Public Safety

You can read about the case in the NY Times article ("Supreme Court Takes Texting Case", Dec. 14, 2009) found here.

NBCA upholds dismissal for cause where supervisor repeatedly viewed pornography on work computer

Jurisdiction: - New Brunswick
Sector: - Manufacturing

In Backman v. Maritime Paper Products Limited, a body corporate, 2009 NBCA 6, the New Brunswick Court of Appeal upheld the dismissal for just cause of a supervisory employee who repeatedly viewed internet pornography on his work computer. In doing so, the court reveiwed the law relating to the doctrine of condonation.


At the time of his dismissal, the supervisory employee had 14 years of service and was earning a salary of $53,000 per year.

The employer had implemented an "Acceptable Use Policy" in 2002 relating to email and internet use. It prohibited the viewing of unprofessional, harassing, offensive or obscene material on company equipment. 

The employee had received written warnings in 2002 and 2003 for accessing pornographic websites. The second warning stated in clear language that any further incidents "will result in the immediate termination of your employment".  read more »