News

Sex in the workplace: 24 percent of workers engage in sexually explicit or romantic computing, says poll
February 10, 2004
Arnall Golden Gregory LLP
Employers increasingly banning supervisor-subordinate workplace relationships

ATLANTA, Feb. 10, 2004 – Nearly one-quarter of American workers have used company computers for sexual or romantic purposes, according to an independent poll commissioned by the world’s largest network of employment and labor attorneys.

In the poll, 24 percent of workers revealed that they have used company computers to visit X-rated Web sites, participate in steamy chat rooms or exchange romantic notes. In response, employers are increasingly banning employees from visiting sex-related sites and from participating in romantic relationships between supervisors and subordinates.

“Employers have always known that employees use computers for personal business, but this poll sheds new light on the number of employees who are misusing workplace computers for romantic or sexual purposes,” said Charles T. Huddleston, co-chair of the Employment Law Practice Team at Atlanta law firm Arnall Golden Gregory LLP. “It’s a significant issue for employers, considering how much productivity is lost and the difficulty involved with confronting the issue.”

The survey is part of an ongoing series of “America at Work” polls commissioned by the Employment Law Alliance, a global network of law firms with labor and employment practices. Independent research firm Reed, Haldy McIntosh & Associates of Media, Pa., conducted the poll Jan. 30 through Feb. 1, surveying 826 employees who have Internet access at work.

In the poll, 37 percent said their employers prohibit romantic relationships between supervisors and subordinates, while 7 percent said they have been involved in such a relationship.

Huddleston warned that employers should be cautious when addressing workplace romance, saying that haphazard implementation of such policies can threaten civil liberties and put employers at risk for discrimination claims by employees.

“Employers need to ensure that new directives surrounding romantic relationships do not contradict existing rules and regulations in the employee handbook or infringe upon an employee’s civil liberties, and that enforcement of such rules is consistent across all levels of employees, from the executive suite to the loading dock,” he said, adding that litigation related to office romance has increased in recent years.

Key findings of the survey:

  • 24 percent of workers said they were somehow involved in the use of a company computer for sexual or romantic purposes.
  • 43 percent said they believe sexually oriented online activities hurt productivity.
  • 12 percent said they or a co-worker have accessed sexually explicit Web sites from a workplace computer. (About twice as many men said they use the company computer to access sexually explicit Web sites.)
  • 12 percent said they or a co-worker have forwarded sexually explicit e-mail content to co-workers while at work.
  • 6 percent said they or a co-worker have engaged in sexually explicit online chats/instant messaging while at work.
  • 10 percent said they or a co-worker have used the office computer for online dating services.

Arnall Golden Gregory LLP is an Atlanta law firm that serves the business transaction needs of growing middle market companies. Through mergers and acquisitions, capital markets financing, strategic alliances, joint ventures, litigation support, employment law advice and other business-related guidance, the firm helps clients in a broad range of industries turn legal challenges into business opportunities. For more information, visit www.agg.com or call 404.873.8500.

AGG is the exclusive Georgia representative for the Employment Law Alliance, the world’s largest integrated, global practice network comprised of premier, independent law firms distinguished for their practice in employment and labor law. There are member firms in every jurisdiction in the United States and major commercial centers throughout the world. For more information, visit www.employmentlawalliance.com.

Contact:

Henry M. Perlowski, co-chair of the Employment Law Practice Team at Arnall Golden Gregory, W 404.873.8684, F 404.873.8685, M 404.849.4902, H 404.634.7603