- Wasted Talent: Xerox fired more than 40 employees in 1999 for idling away up to eight hours a day on X-rated sites. The downloading of porn videos was so pervasive, it actually choked Xerox's computer network and prevented employees from sending and receiving legitimate eMail.
- Wasted Talent: Dow Chemical fired 64 workers and disciplined 230 more in 2000 for violating the company's policies against pornographic eMail.
- Wasted Talent: The New York Times Company fired nearly two dozen employees and reprimanded another 20 workers for sending and/or receiving eMails that included sexual images and offensive jokes.
- Wrongful Termination Lawsuits: If a former employee subpoenas company eMail in the course of a wrongful termination lawsuit, your organization could face a lengthy and expensive search for back-up tapes of eMail messages. In one case, a Fortune 500 company was ordered by a court to turn over any eMail that mentioned the name of a former employee who was suing the company for improper termination. With no policy in place for purging eMail, the company faced the prospect of searching more than 20,000 back-up tapes, containing millions of messages, at a cost of $1,000 per tape. Total potential cost for that electronic search: $20 million.
- Sexual Harassment Claims: Employee misuse of corporate eMail can result
in six-figure litigation costs and million-dollar legal settlements.
In one high-profile case, Chevron Corp. in 1995 was ordered to pay female employees
$2.2 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit stemming from inappropriate eMail
circulated by male employees. The offenders' eMail messages included, among other gems,
25 Reasons Why Beer is Better Than Women.
- Lost Productivity: US business lost $500 million in workplace productivity in 1999, when Congress released the Starr Report and President Clinton's video deposition over the Internet. Some 13.5 million workers slacked off and logged on to see what the President, Monica Lewinsky, and independent counsel Kenneth Starr had to say about the relationship between the commander in chief and the intern.
- Lost Productivity: Firefighters in Columbus, Ohio triggered an internal investigation, media sensation, and public uproar when a routine scan of on-the-job Internet surfing revealed that fire division headquarters' staff were visiting as many as 8,000 pornographic sites a day.
- PR Headaches: A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) employee
inadvertently sent a dirty joke entitled Nuns in Heaven to 6,000 journalists
and government officials on the agency's group eMail list. This employee's lapse in judgment and electronic mistake resulted in negative publicity and national embarrassment for the FCC.
- Fines and Imprisonment: Get caught with pirated software and you'll face a $150,000 fine for each copyright infringed, a prison term of up to five years, public embarrassment, and negative publicity. One US novelty and gift company, Oriental Trading, paid $525,000 to settle claims against it for operating unlicensed software on its system.
- Sabotage & Wasted Computer Resources: Lockheed Martin's eMail system crashed for six hours after an employee sent 60,000 coworkers a personal eMail with a request for an electronic receipt. The defense contractor, which posts 40 million eMails monthly, lost hundreds of thousands of dollars thanks to the resulting system crash. A Microsoft rescue squad was flown in to repair the damage and ensure that a similar time bomb would never again detonate. The employee responsible for Lockheed Martin's eDisaster was fired for sabotage.