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Legal & Appropriate Use of e-mail

Since the beginning of history, we humans have found ever more effective ways of communicating with each other. Email, the fastest and most powerful communications tool ever, has arrived and with it a complex array of legal and interpersonal issues.

Harassment has appeared on-line wearing a variety of disguises. Discrimination in employment issues are surfacing.

Organizations are struggling with what is appropriate and inappropriate personal use of business e-mail. What (if any) privacy can we expect from this technology? What are the legal liability issues?

Organizations and individual employees are facing litigation arising out of the illegal use of their email systems. Messages that employees thought had been deleted are being discovered in back-up tapes and elsewhere by high tech detectives and used as evidence in lawsuits.

Productivity that is supposed to be enhanced by the speed and power of e-mail is, in many organizations, being negatively impacted as employees use their e-mail for personal communication, to run their own private businesses, to send jokes (some of which are inappropriate or offensive) to their co-workers or to "flame" those they don’t like. There is much to think about.

Email Essentials is intended to help employees in public and private sector organizations think through the appropriate and inappropriate uses of this powerful communications tool.

Key Learning Points

  • how e-mail works
  • what if any privacy you can anticipate
  • what if any personal uses of an organization’s e-mail are appropriate
  • some of the rules of e-mail etiquette
  • the illegality of e-mail harassment
  • confidentiality concerns
  • disclosure issues (public sector version)

Program Contents

E-mail essentials is made up of short theatrical dramatizations that explore each of the issues the program seeks to address. A diverse group of legal, human resources and technology experts discuss the significance of each scenario and suggest guidelines to use in determining whether you are using your e-mail system in a manner that is legal, appropriate and consistent with the values of your organization.

There are management and employee versions of the program available for public and private sector organizations.

Scene Descriptions

  • Scene #1: Lose Weight Now - use of workplace e-mail to promote a personal business
  • Scene #2: Taking Initiative - political campaigning over the e-mail system
  • Scene #3: Sorry, Wrong Address - sending inappropriate personal messages
  • Scene #4: Flame Out - using e-mail to express anger or other emotions
  • Scene #5: The Joke’s on Me - playing jokes on co-workers using the e-mail system
  • Scene #6: What Does "No" Mean? - e-mail harassment is still harassment
  • Scene #7: Adding Insult to Injury - inappropriate personnel discussions (management version only)
  • Scene #8: Leaks Hurt - sending confidential e-mail documents

Support Materials

The video is accompanied by a User’s and Facilitator’s Guide. This flexible guide includes participant handouts, a bibliography, an e-mail etiquette dictionary, exercises and questions for discussion.

Purchase Includes:

  • Email Essentials DVD (24 Minutes)
  • Facilitator's Guide

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