Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Daniel Lucero
PORTALES--Dr. Robert Sprague, assistant professor of business administration at Eastern New Mexico University, has been researching the impact of the law on using and managing e-mail for a number of years. He recently presented his findings at the 2003 Academy of Legal Studies in Business Annual Conference in Nashville, Tenn. The Academy of Legal Studies in Business defines and advances legal studies in business and management education and is the professional home for legal studies educators.
Dr. Sprague's paper, titled "Pandora's Inbox: The Legal Issues Associated with Managing Workplace E-mail," addresses the obligations employers may have to monitor workplace e-mail.
One main topic is SPAM, which is defined by www.dictionary.com as: "Unsolicited e-mail, often of a commercial nature, sent indiscriminately to multiple mailing lists, individuals, or newsgroups; junk e-mail."
Employees who receive SPAM could find it to be distracting or offensive. According to Dr. Sprague, "Employers have an obligation to minimize offensive materials that may interfere with employees being able to perform their responsibilities."
Another important issue Dr. Sprague discusses is how certain e-mail cannot be blocked. Dr. Sprague noted that "if an employer allows some personal use of the company e-mail system, the employer cannot then prohibit use of the e-mail system for union-related messages."
Employers have the right to monitor employee e-mail as long as the employees are notified. Monitoring employee e-mail "may now be evolving into a legal requirement," according to Dr. Sprague.