You graduate from TCU and get a job. Your employer gives you a company cell phone, which you then use for personal business like making plans to meet a friend for drinks after work. No big deal, right?
Jeff Quon, a SWAT sergeant in Ontario, Calif., is facing charges from his employer after sexting on his company-paid cell phone. Now, a Supreme Court ruling could block personal use of employer-issued phones altogether, which seems to be an extreme consequence for a pretty minor offense.
To start, Quon was not acting intelligently when he sent erotic pictures and texts from the phone the police department issued him. Any company that gives its employees a phone is doing so for one reason: to be able to reach its employees in a timely matter.
If employers continue giving workers cell phones and laptops for work use, they will have to take the good with the bad. The good for the company is that employees will be able to work from home and answer work related calls and e-mails immediately. The bad is that most people who are given a phone through their jobs would not, in an attempt to save money, pay for a phone reserved for their personal use., Consequently, the company phone becomes a device for personal use as well.
According to an MSNBC article, 83 percent of employers have a policy in place that prohibits the personal use of company equipment. But the line between company and personal equipment starts to blur as mobile devices become more and more advanced.
More than a quarter of companies have fired employees for misusing the company’s e-mail account, according to the article. This brings up the question of expectation of privacy.
Although it is the employer’s e-mail account, there is no harm in simple personal use. If personal use becomes excessive, that is a different issue.
Quon wasn’t exactly smart in his sexting practices, but the Supreme Court should rule in his favor to keep employers from preventing personal use of company devices altogether. Instead, companies should adopt inappropriate use policies, as opposed to personal use policies, to keep their devices clean.
Chris Blake is a junior broadcast journalism major from Irving.