What are the risks for employers in instances where employees use company computers to access, view, download, store and possibly forward pornography or engage in illegal activities? How can corporate counsel both prevent these abuses and handle investigations if they suspect some kind of prohibited conduct is occurring in the workplace?

Certainly, an employee’s abuse of a company’s computer systems can raise a number of legal concerns not only for the individual but also for the corporation. For example, cases abound where the contents of employee e-mails, computer downloads and other electronic communications are used as evidence in claims of discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Central to such claims is proof that the employer failed to take appropriate steps to prevent — and promptly correct — the unwelcome conduct.

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