A moral Dilemma
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Thread: A moral Dilemma

  1. #1
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    A moral Dilemma

    I was recently running network tests using a packet sniffer on our corporate LAN. It was about 22:00 an I thought I was alone in the building. Then I came accross some packets that shouldn't have been there and so took a closer look. Upon inspection I found that someone was using a terminal in another part of the building to access porn.

    I should say first that we have a policy of reporting such abuse to the abusers direct superior. It was me who instigated the procedure (I am the technical director of said company) and I have never before had any hesitation in following the procedure I have laid down.

    But here's the twist, and the moral dilemma. The orientation of the sites being browsed were of a homosexual nature, and no-one in the office has any idea that the user in question is gay (except - now - me). Usually the offender would get a verbal warning from their direct supervisor. Repeat offenders (though it's never happend) then a written warning, and then fired.

    In this case however, if I were to report this to his direct supervisor I would have to produce the logs and whilst the guys sexual preference makes no difference to me I am aware that this could cause him a great many more problems in the office than just the normal slapped wrists routine.

    I don't want to end up losing a good employee (and he is) but I need to reconcile that against my policy on internet abuse. Suggestions please...
    \"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.\"
    Sir Winston Churchill.

  2. #2
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    If you made the procedure, surely it applies to all cases and scenarios?
    Therefore, the nature of the material is irrelevent, just provide the logs to his superiors. If he was breaking the policy, he needs to be dealt with. I'm sure he'd have no hesitation to sue the company if he thought for one minute that his sexuality made a slightest difference to his method of disciplinary action. Its called discrimination, and its illegal. You can't make special cases for people just because they are different to all the other cases you've had... same rules apply regardless of the nature of the pornographic material, surely?

    (Or, maybe you should add a clause at the end that says "homosexual pornography is exempt from the above procedure and is considered acceptable in the workplace whereas any other variety is not")
    One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them.
    One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
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  3. #3
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    Yes. I agree with every word.

    Of course the procedure has to be implimented - regardless of the nature of the transgression. My dilema comes from my own need to know that I have taken the most compassionate course of action in this matter. The potential for suffering by the transgressor is in this instance disproportionate to than which would have been the case had he been surfing 'straight' sites, or even if he wasn't so far in the closet as to be in Narnia.

    I just wondered if anyone could think of more compassionate solution than just turning the guy in and hoping the supervisor doesn't spill to his co-workers.
    \"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.\"
    Sir Winston Churchill.

  4. #4
    AntiOnline Senior Medicine Man
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    How about talking to the guy. Approch the guy on a non-professional level. Catch him outside on his way to his car, or meet him for lunch someday. If your so worried about being compassionate, then talk to him like a human, not an employee. Tell him somthing along the lines of...."I was admin-ing our network the other day and noticed your surfing habits ..........why don't we keep that at home."
    I think the startle from the initial statement will give the idea. Nothing eles will need to be said. I dont think he is going to report you for letting him have a chance to correct this problem.
    It is better to be HATED for who you are, than LOVED for who you are NOT.

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  5. #5
    AO Soccer Mom debwalin's Avatar
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    w00t w00t...I get to be on the same side of the fence as Dr Toker in a thread...LOL!

    I agree one hundred percent with what he said. Yes, rules are there for a reason, but I really feel like the compassion you are showing here is more important. This man may have a LOT of reasons for not wanting it to be known what he is looking at. And it's not like he is downloading kiddie porn...there is no crime being committed, and I think that handling it EXACTLY the way Dr Toker said is the right thing to do.

    Unfortunately we don't live in a black and white world, and I think that this is a definite gray area. All you have to go on is what makes you feel like you've done the right thing. I think that if you approach him one on one, and let him know that you know what he is doing, then you've done the best thing for all involved. The point of the rule is to make them stop right?
    I almost guarentee that you speaking to him about it he will stop. If he doesn't, the next time you can follow the usual rules with NO concern on your part, because you've done what you felt was right this time.

    Deb
    Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.

  6. #6
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    Dr Toker --

    I'd considered that - it's just doing it so as not to draw too much attention, or intimdate him. I'm wasn't concerned if /I/ could speak to /him/ on a non proffesional level - my concern was whether he could repond in a non proffesional level - after all I'm his bosses bosses boss.

    I like the idea of catching him on the way to the carpark however. I could even be having a quite smoke outside when the final whistle goes...
    If your so worried about being compassionate
    I actually am. As an employer I feel I have a social responsibility to those people whom I employ. Call it old fashioned, but I trade on the abilities of those I employ and feel that there is a social contract that sits alongside the ones written by HR. I actually believe all that fellowship of man stuff I talked about here, here and here .

    I am 21....its all downhill from here.
    Nope - I'm 30 and it just keeps getting better !
    \"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.\"
    Sir Winston Churchill.

  7. #7
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    deb --

    The point of the rule is to make them stop right?
    Well, actually, it was originally because we had girls in the office and I'm old fashioned enough for that to embarrass me . I'm paying for the bandwidth anyway and within certain restrictions I don't really care what people view on their own time. But point taken. Read my reply to Dr Toker.
    \"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.\"
    Sir Winston Churchill.

  8. #8
    GreekGoddess
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    I agree with the personal approach. If he hasn't come out with sexuallity, which he has no obligation to do so in a work place, since heterosexuality is assumed for a male, unless you're overly feminine, in which homosexuality is implied...it would probably mortify him for anyone to know. Maybe he's not homosexual, maybe just curious about the same sex. When I make a decision, I try to look at things from the other person's perspective to the best of my ability. I had a job once working in a car dealership, in a community of snobbish people, and it made working there uncomfortable. I liked the money, and the job, but it was awkward. I ended up quitting, I dreaded having to go to work everyday and be looked upon differently, in that case for no reason except for that I wasn't the richest girl and I was working in a wealthy community.

    If you feel obligated to report him, is there any way that you don't have to show the exact sites to which he went to?

  9. #9
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    i vote for the personal approach too.. it's hard to get good employees let alone try to keep them. but on the other hand to be fair, this should apply to all employees as well.. a three strike (the first one hidden) your out.. rule.
    just my 2 cents.

  10. #10
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    GreekGodess--

    Maybe he's not homosexual, maybe just curious about the same sex.
    Not that it matters, but actually it was a pay site for which he had a username and password. The logs would also indicate that he was uploading pictures of himself into his user profile and recieving quite a few PM style messages from 'admirers'. I got enough of the jist from tcpdump not to want any dinner.

    If you feel obligated to report him, is there any way that you don't have to show the exact sites to which he went to?
    Reporting him (for slapped wrists from his direct supervisor) would be the usual procedure (and it's my procedure), but I am trying to avoid the kind of situation you describe in your post. If I report it to his supervisor I have to fill in a form with the name of the offending site(s).

    So as I said, I think I prefer the more personal approach aswell, but I tried to catch him on the way out of work today (see the suggestion above by Dr toker), but he came out of the office with a number of other people and so there was no appropriate moment for a personal conversation.

    Any more ideas?
    \"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.\"
    Sir Winston Churchill.

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