Yukon’s computer porn scandal

Government’s actions show organizations don’t necessarily need a specific computer-use policy when it comes to disciplining staff for downloading and circulating inappropriate material
By Todd Humber
|Canadian Employment Law Today

A wide-ranging investigation of computer misuse by Yukon government employees that resulted in the investigation of hundreds of workers holds some important lessons for HR.

Two workers were fired and more than 500 others investigated after a large amount of pornography was found on the government’s computer system. The investigation started with the discovery of the inappropriate material in late 2002 and culminated early this year when the government and the Public Service Alliance of Canada/Yukon Employees Union resolved a number of grievances that arose from the investigation and the resulting disciplinary action.

The problem first came to light when a contractor was unable to run programs because a server had been overloaded. In looking into the problem, the government found an employee had saved a large volume of files on the system that contained sexually graphic and explicit images. Further investigation revealed the problem was not an isolated incident.