update: employee didn’t check email for 60 days

Remember the manager at a dysfunctional public agency who discovered that an employee two levels below him hadn’t checked email for a full two months? Here’s the update.

First, thank you to Alison and everyone else for your comments, suggestions, and even the government employee snark. I appreciate it all.

I sat down with Fergus and his supervisor and we talked about things. His excuse for not checking his email or talking to me about getting it fixed was that he:

1. Didn’t think it was that big of a deal, since he was getting info from other people (i.e., having them print things for him from their emails)
2. Was still using his personal email to handle the few things he sent out each week
3. Kept forgetting that he needed to get it fixed and never thought about it when I was in the office, only when I was out

So I pointed out how I had been clear that this was a work requirement, that he was missing important information and updates on serious issues, that this was a part of his job and he wasn’t doing it, that I was pretty frustrated with him about it, etc. We also talked about how those excuses would have worked if we were talking about a week or two, but this length of time was unacceptable. I also asked if he was out of Post-It notes, because that is all it would have taken to fix this.

So for the first time in my young managerial career, I delivered an official reprimand (in writing) and a requirement that he check his email at least once a day as part of his improvement plan. First time that this has happened here in at least 25 years.

At this point I figured, my blood pressure is already through the roof, let’s burn the crops and salt the earth. I followed the Fergus meeting up with a department-by-department discussion with all of our employees about what professionalism in a public agency means. We have always had nagging performance issues, but this email thing is just the first in a long line of crazy employee behavior over the past few weeks.

I have included the text of my professionalism points of discussion in case anyone cares (referred to in my head as my Manager’s Manifesto). These all address specific things that have actually happened over the past few weeks. If nothing else, I have been crystal clear about what is okay and what isn’t, and set things up for discipline moving forward. I feel a little unhinged at the moment after being so blunt and assertive, but it has been a long time coming. It will be interesting to see how things look when the dust settles.

1. Computer and Personal Device Use
a. Limited computer use during the day for personal reasons is acceptable. Excessive online shopping, playing games, reading e-books, and other activities are not acceptable. Your supervisor determines when the use of computers or personal electronics are excessive.
b. Viewing pornographic or sexually explicit material during work time or on work computers is grounds for immediate firing.

2. On Time Arrival
a. You are expected to be on time for your work shift unless prior approval from your supervisor is granted. Prior approval does not mean “Hey, I am running late, be there soon.”
b. This means in your seat and ready to go when the clock starts.

3. Returning Calls and Emails
a. Email must be checked at least once a day, every day that you are in the office.
b. Calls and emails that require a response must be returned within 2 business days of receiving them.

4. Personal Phone Use
a. Limited personal phone use is acceptable. Your supervisor determines when the use of a personal phone is excessive.
b. Personal phones and other devices will not be used while serving a client, or while a client is in the waiting area and you are in view of that client.
c. If you are on a personal call, texting, or otherwise using your phone, and the work phone rings or a client comes in, end your personal call. Work comes first.

5. Swearing and Topics for Conversation
a. Cursing or the use of other foul or crude language is not acceptable in the office, whether speaking to a client or with a coworker. Voices carry around the office, and cursing will not be tolerated.
b. If you are speaking with a coworker and a client comes in, deal with the client and continue your staff conversation later.
c. Use professional judgment in determining what topics you discuss at work. Keep it clean and appropriate.

6. Work Attitude
a. We are here to serve the public and accomplish our mission. This means that WE can be inconvenienced if it means that we are then able to serve others.
b. Every client that we serve deserves our kindness and respect. If you are unable to deal with a particular client in this way, talk to your supervisor. We will not treat our clients rudely, roll our eyes, or express in any way that we are not happy to serve them.
c. We are here to do work, and to work together as a team. Gossip will not be tolerated. Treat your teammates with respect and kindness. This is not junior high. You are expected to be respectful and professional with your coworkers.


{ 337 comments… read them below }

  1. Charlie*

    I’m aghast that such a list of obvious rules is required, but sounds like a bit of a warpath was justified, OP. Would love to hear what other crazy personnel issues stacked up.

    1. OhNo*

      Same here! I’m very curious about what kind of issues cropped up that required this list. They all seem like pretty obvious points to me, but apparently not everyone agrees.

      1. Charlie*

        Like was said below, a lot of people seem to think anything they haven’t been specifically and explicitly told not to do goes, and that if they’re told not to post-fact0, they’re entitled to negotiate about it. That last is why I appreciated OP’s “Your supervisor will be the sole determiner” clauses.

        1. Jeanne*

          It’s a hold over from when you’re 6 years old. “Mom told us not to play ball in the living room. Let’s play in the dining room!” Some need to grow up.

          1. Jennifer's Ever-Maturing Thneed*

            Just this week, a friend was talking to his 8-yr-olds about the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. (One of them is a right little rules lawyer and he’s trying to get her to back it off just a bit.) They didn’t seem to take it in, but it’s the first of many repetitions. They’ll get there.

      2. ZuKeeper*

        What seems pretty obvious to one person is strangely not always obvious to others. I once had to fire a man who spent his work evenings on the department computer doing personal design work. I didn’t mind so much when he did unpaid interior design work for friends in the evenings, at least he was getting proficient at the software. But then he was caught putting together a lovely collage… of naked men. This was a computer in full view of the public…

        1. Bonky*

          I do wish you were able to see the image that popped into my mind when I read that.

          (You, on the other hand, may not feel the same way.)

    2. enough*

      Unfortunately this is too often the norm. Too many people go by the dictate that if you haven’t told me I can’t then I can.

      1. Construction Safety*

        No kidding. We once had a guy who applied for unemployment because he said we didn’t tell him that if he didn’t come to work regularly, he would be fired.

        1. Elle*

          And when they file, you have to prove to the unemployment office that they were told that regular attendance was a requirement of the job.

      2. CDL*

        I’ve known of junior employees who would watch movies on their computers while they attempted to work. They didn’t understand what the problem was until it was pointed out to them by supervisors, and even then, they thought the supervisors were being unfair. I agree that most of the items OP listed should be common sense, but sometimes they need to be repeated.

        1. Mel*

          In my first corporate gig (entry level), I would watch stuff on my computer while doing the mindless stuff like stuffing envelopes, putting folders together, etc. But my boss told me to stop… so I made sure to save the mindless work until after she left for the day. It still got done, and even faster, as I wasn’t bored.
          I have since matured to listening to podcasts with one earbud for mindless tasks that have to get done. Again, I’m actually more productive because I’m not bored out of my mind and don’t have to take as many breaks.

        2. Bunny*

          At my former state job, people openly slept and watched Netflix. One guy brought in an Xbox. One called me a C****. I was written up for complaining. I know most public jobs are not like this.

          BTW, this reporter started taking detailed notes and handed them all over to reporter friends on the outside.

          1. Karanda Baywood*

            Wait. Did he call you a C**** or a C***?

            If it was the former, I honestly have no idea what word it was. The latter, on the other hand, is crystal clear!

        3. EmmaLou*

          Don’t you love grown people complaining that things aren’t “fair”? How did they get to being grown without ever hearing: “Yes. It’s not fair. Lots of things are not fair. Stop expecting ‘fair.’ Move on.”?

      3. Your Weird Uncle*

        I call this the ‘glass in the bathtub’ rule.

        A former coworker and I were complaining about housemates: he had one who broke a glass in the bathroom and, instead of disposing of it properly, just decided to put the pieces in the bathtub. (??!??!!!) When his housemates found it (quite painfully) and asked him what he was thinking, he was very nonchalant and just said, ‘Oh, but you never told me I couldn’t put it there.’

        Sadly, I know a lot of people who are like this.

        1. pope suburban*

          What the what now? I’ve had my fair share of subpar roommates, but this really takes the cake!

        2. Less anonymous than before*

          *blinks* WOW.

          Adding this to my list of 4325492542 reasons I’m thankful to have never needed to have a roommate or housemate when I was younger. Sheesh.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          You know when people cannot keep themselves and others around them safe that is really worrisome. I hope the roommate was asked to move on.

          1. Your Weird Uncle*

            He was! It was the last issue in a long list of problems, but I think it was the last straw.

        4. Kelly L.*

          He must have been the same guy from an old Captain Awkward letter. It was his girlfriend writing in, and the guy did things like leave broken glass on the floor for months because, like, the man can’t tell me what to do, man..

          1. Alex*

            Omg I am that girlfriend and stumbling across this comment (albeit late in the day) made me laugh. THE STREAMS ARE CROSSED.

        5. LadyCop*

          What the actual F… always amazed how people like this can take care of themselves… let alone hold down jobs…

      4. Triangle Pose*

        What worries me about using such a list is the implication that it is exhaustive and the fact that the people who have issues with some of the things on the list (gossip, acting like it’s junior high, etc.) are already so far out there they wouldn’t recognize their own behavior as the problem. The people who don’t need a list because it’s obvious to them these are baseline requirements of the workplace won’t benefit because they are already complying and the people who NEED such a list don’t think they themselves are the problem, it’s the other people. Like a Dunning Kruger effect.

        1. Triangle Pose*

          Not saying this wasn’t the right call in OP’s case, it looks like certain folks on the team had specific issues and the list might really help. I just think if managers take such a list as a starting point for managing people, it could have negative effects.

        2. BuildMeUp*

          I think the LW is using the list more to prevent future “I didn’t know I needed to check my email!” protests. Now that she has established the rules, it will be easier to deal with people who break them, because they don’t have the excuse of not knowing.

          I agree that the people with the worst behavior might not change just because of these meetings, though. I think it will make it easier to deal with them if/when that happens.

        3. Colette*

          The problem with allowing this kind of behaviour is that it spreads – so even if the original instigators don’t react, the people who’ve started doing things because everyone else does will likely shape up.

        4. snuck*


          My fear in a workplace like this is that you’ll find yourself having hundreds of nit picking rules…

          Next will be bathroom breaks, stinky food, cleaning up the kitchen etc.

          It’s a shame your rule about cursing means you can’t just put up a sign that says “Don’t be a dick”

          1. Candi*

            That’s TV Tropes #1 rule.

            It’s used as a catch-all for all nasty and unneighborly behavior that isn’t specifically covered by other rules. If it’s dickish behavior, don’t do it should be clear…

      5. Artemesia*

        I was in charge of a graduate program in a University and we had a problem doctoral student who had lawyered himself out of several situations where he should have been expelled. The university was easily bullied. When he took his quals he flunked and so was retaking them alone in a room with a wiped computer that we provided with no internet connection. I read his test after the first day of the three days and it was obvious to me that he had carried in canned material on a disk and cut and pasted it in to his responses. so the next day I asked the secretary to go in 10 minutes before the end of the exam period and remove the disk from the computer. She did this and he threw a fit and demanded it be returned or ‘we will just erase it right now’ and he only had it because he wanted a copy of his answer in case we graded him unfairly.

        The disk was full of canned material some of which had been dropped into the answers each day with very minimal adaptation e.g. the case might have involved chocolate tea pot production but his canned material was about gherkin production and so words were changed to make it case specific.

        When I presented the information to the department chair requesting his dismissal from the program his first words were ‘well did you actually tell him he couldn’t do this?’

        The mind boggles. Luckily we had in fact told everyone in writing before the exams as part of our routine boilerplate that no materials could be carried into the exam room. But seriously — this has to be made explicit for a monitored high stakes test situation?

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          That is seriously one of the most insane stories I’ve heard. Someone abjectly cheats/plagiarizes on quals that they have already flunked once, and the response is to say “did you actually tell him he couldn’t do this?” GTFO.

        2. Less anonymous than before*

          Wow, so what ended up happening with him? was he dismissed from the program? It sounds like this a developed method for this person and he probably cheated his way through school for a very long time. I can just imagine how entitled this person walks around feeling. I wonder if he’s changed or is even worse now and what he’s like as an employee or peer coworker, as I am sure this was many years ago (what with discs and all)

      6. Amber*

        Or even some believe it’s ok to just ignore the rules.

        I remember at my first real job (outside of the Army) I was used to follows orders and being required to know and follow the rule book. So one day a coworker sent me something to my personal email and I told him I’d check it when I got home, I couldn’t check it at work because the Employee Handbook says to never use work computers for personal use. And his response was something like “Oh come on, you’ve never used it to check email or facebook or anything?” and my response “No”. He was genuinely shocked as if that was unheard of.

        He always come up with other reasons why others were promoted over him even though we were hired at the same time. Sometimes managers are just really happy to see people who don’t need to be managed.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Ditto. Absolutely ditto. I’m reading over this list and going “…really? Really??”

    4. LSP*

      Having worked in government offices, I can tell you that (aside from people watching porn on their computers at work) I have witnessed all of these behaviors firsthand. Far too many public workers feel inconvenienced by being expected to do their jobs, and will be rude to customers/clients, put personal phone calls and conversations ahead of work, and swear loudly regardless of who may be around.
      I’m sure plenty of this happens in private business as well, but I have only ever seen it in government settings. I work in the private sector now, and people are much better behaved.

        1. Raine*

          Definitely. And the thing about being in your seat at start time? This forum is rather famous for resisting that at every turn — you’d think being on time is oppressive rather than just a fundamental expectation in most professional offices.

          1. Charlie*

            Depends on what the context is, of course. The expectations for a public-facing service position where certain hours must be covered are obviously different from the expectations for computer-facing salaried types. There’s a compelling need for customer service people to be on time and ready to work during the hours customers might need service, there’s no real reason why it matters if I’m in my seat at 8:00 or 8:05.

            1. Anon13*

              I completely agree. Of course, I don’t think it’s oppressive or anything to require people to arrive to work on time, but arriving at an exact time has not been a fundamental expectation in the professional offices in which I’ve worked. In fact, in one office, we could basically make our own hours, as long as we averaged 37.5 hours a week and were in the office from ~10:00-4:00 every day. Of course, this didn’t apply to the receptionist, and some partners and associates required their specific support staff to arrive at certain times (even then, being ~5 minutes late wouldn’t be a big deal), but for a lot of people in the office, getting your work done was more important than adhering to a strict schedule. In my current office, frequently arriving more than 15 minutes late would raise eyebrows and probably eventually result in some sort of disciplinary action, but no one cares if you are walking in the door at 8:30 or even 8:40 instead of in your seat at 8:30. It probably helps that everyone in the office is salary and works well over 40 hours a week.

            2. Misc*

              Soooo context specific. At my last job, I apologised if I got to the desk 30 seconds late. At this job, I rolled out of bed about 3pm for what’s technically a 9-5 job >.>

              (I started work at 9am yesterday, and then slept all afternoon and was then still working at 5am. I work from home and have major sleep problems).

          2. Roscoe*

            Its really job specific. Technically I start at 8. But if I’m not in my seat at 8:01 its not a problem.

        2. Temperance*

          True, but it’s much easier to get rid of a low-performing employee in private business. In my experience growing up in a small town, all the government jobs go to people with connections, who don’t care about actual job performance, because they know that they’ll have job security for life.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I think getting rid of a low-performing employee is slightly different from getting rid of an employee who is rude to the public, overusing their work computer for personal use, misusing their personal phone, or watching pornography. Although civil service regulations and sometimes CBA’s limit firing government employees w/o cause, it is sometimes comparably difficult to remove someone for cause as it is in the private sector (particularly if you include an at-will provision during hiring).

      1. Sketch*

        I know a lot of government works since we’re out of DC. Pornography and all that goes with it has been described as common in some of these offices. It’s still shocking to me.

        1. Anon for this*

          I was involved in a union negotiation once for an employee we sacked. This was in a large quasi government organisation (it had been government, then privatised, was a utility provider, and all the technical employees were still very much union/government mindset).

          An employee was sacked for inappropriate behaviour.
          Employee fought ‘unfair dismissal’ on grounds of not being warned his behaviour was inappropriate.
          Union rep came to meeting to discuss unfair dismissal. Explained that looking at adult content was the norm (it kind of was, but shouldn’t have been, and the norm was sexy santa christmas cards, not full blown porn or videos), and without a due warning process we were unfairly targetting this employee.
          We (me, next up manager, HR, and Legal) leant forward across the table and suggested that the union rep could take it up with the Federal Police.
          Union Rep held his ground, and tacked on unreasonable use of police resources to further our own persecution agenda.
          We dropped the words “kiddie porn” on the table.
          Meeting closed.


      2. Not So NewReader*

        Not saying which sector but I was talking with a middle aged person who was genuinely shocked that she had to be polite to the public. “Well what if I don’t feel good? Or what if I just don’t want to?”

        Fortunately, I am used to hearing all kinds of stuff because I came right back with, “Well for one thing being pleasant means people will be easier to deal with and they will go away quicker. And secondly, we are being paid to get along with people, no matter if they internals or externals. That is part of what we are paid for.”

        This person never said this to me again. I assume she found sympathy elsewhere.

    5. H.C.*

      Sadly, at my OldJob a co-worker did get written up for watching adult vids on his work PC.


      1. Jeanne*

        I’ve heard of how prevalent this is. I never had an interest in watching porn at work and I consider it gross to watch porn at work. Save that for home.

        1. Juli G.*

          Remember when someone submitted last week about HR finding the exec liking and following porn accounts on Twitter “very, very interesting”? There is nothing HR finds less interesting than porn because it’s so common.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I’m just really puzzled why people think it’s ok to counteract boredom (or whatever other reason for wanting a distraction) by watching porn. Like, seriously??

        1. Marillenbaum*

          I get being bored at work; I do not get thinking porn at work is the right answer. Can’t you just listen to Serial in one ear like the rest of us?

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yeah, really. The facilities/IT guy at one job told me he could see what people did at their computers (of course) and he said there was quite a bit of it. I was totally grossed out because then of course my mind went to, Why is Bob going to the can right now. Ewww. Save that for when you get home.

            When Obama was elected in 2008, I watched the inauguration on my PC at the front desk, with one earbud in, and still answered the phone and did my job. My boss cruised by and saw me and he didn’t say one word. If he had, I was prepared to defend myself because I was watching history in the making. But porn? Seriously?

          2. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

            I once had a job that was so boring and I had so little to do that I spent whole DAYS teaching myself new stuff by reading Wikipedia and clicking on random links (From WWII to unusual deaths to King Canute to Polynesia to Esperanto… you get the picture). I also used an online app to learn some Italian for a forthcoming holiday, and worked my way through a whole series of a British cult TV show on the iPlayer.

            One afternoon I was so bored I emptied, cleaned, and tidied the stationery cupboard. Twice. But it never once occurred to me to watch porn.

      3. One of the Sarahs*

        In my last uni, they decided not to pay library staff after 6pm, but have one member of an agency security team on duty until the library closed at 9pm. This agency worker was allowed to surf the internet on the library staff terminal, but then was caught watching porn on it, which was pretty scary, as the screen was visible, so anyone working in the library alone knew he was there deliberately trying to get aroused. It was reported twice before he was fired – the second time was on a weekend, on the day of an open day, after a tour leader had spotted it while tons of students and their parents were walking right past!

        I know in the past, one or two commenters have asked why it’s a big deal to watch porn at work (there was a question a while back about a manager watching porn in his office that could be heard by people working in the next room) and it boggled my mind at the time, but the usual answer stands, if anyone’s wondering: that porn is something watched purely for the sake of sexual arousal and/or gratification, which (outside of sex work) and so is not an acceptable workplace activity!

      4. Wwr*

        I think almost everyone who does this has a legit addiction/compulsion of some kind, it’s not the purview of someone who’s just bored at work.

        1. Zombii*

          That and it’s getting normalized in the younger culture in (what I think is) a really weird way. I worked at a place where the dudes—and occasionally a few of the ladies—would show each other x-rated clips on their phones. This was at least in the break room, with their backs to a wall, with no sound. But still really weird to know about.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It seems too ubiquitous to all be the result of an addiction, though. It’s certainly still not ok to do it, but I would be more sympathetic if someone were pursuing treatment for a porn addiction.

    6. Catnip Melba Toast*

      After I read about a public school district in the south having to put a policy in writing which required the teachers to wear underwear while teaching, I decided nothing was ever going to shock me again. Ever.

        1. Kyrielle*

          I am not familiar with the case, but I am going to bet it involved a teacher in a skirt/kilt/dress and wind or some other happenstance (hopefully it was not short enough for ‘sitting’ to count) moving it too far. (Tight pants would be an issue with underwear also, so that wouldn’t likely be addressed by mentioning underwear.)

        2. Coffee or Tea*

          In high school I had a student teacher who would wear shortish skirts and pantyhose with no underwear. She would then spend a good portion of class sitting on top of a desk she had pulled to the front of the classroom. We saw a lot we didn’t want to see.

          1. Gene*

            You had Miss Glessner too? And she didn’t always wear the pantyhose. And it was the early 70s, so the dresses were short. I was never late for that class; that was better than the neighbor’s discarded Playboys for a 14-yo boy of the time.

            Maybe you didn’t want to see it, bit 90% of the boys in the class did.

      1. MsMaryMary*

        I interned at a company that had a similar “underwear must be worn at all times” rule, and when I asked about it (uh, are there random inspections?) they told me it was a braless woman who had inspired the rule.

        1. Anon, Esq.*

          I taught summer school once at my old high school. They had changed the dress code in the interim, loosening it considerably from when I was a student (you could wear SHORTS now! In Texas! Finally!), but a couple of the items in the code gave me pause. One of them I still remember verbatim 20-mumble years later: “Hairy armpits shall not be exposed.”

          I actually asked one of my old teachers who was still teaching there how that clause came about. Apparently, it was one hell of a faculty meeting, complete with accusations of sexism and a lengthy discussion of tank tops vs. muscle tees vs. halters vs. etc. The final wording was, from what I was told, proposed as more of a “let’s cut the BS” joke by one of the coaches and the principal put it to a vote to shut him up. NO ONE expected it to pass, but everyone was so sick of the argument that it did.

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      Agreed. Although I would add a specific disclaimer that this list is not exhaustive, and there are many other behaviors and actions that are unacceptable and will result in discipline at the discretion of your supervisor or another authority.

      But it’s a great list.

  2. Jessesgirl72*

    I wonder how much push back the OP is going to receive from higher ups and the union.

    What seems obvious to us isn’t always obvious to people who are used to things being a certain crappy way.

    1. LSP*

      When I worked for the government I often found myself annoyed at the union that represented me. They fought against things like merit-based pay increases and promotions. They want everything to be based on tests employees take that most of the time have little to nothing to do with the job people do, and people who are great at their job but not so good at tests are left behind. It’s a broken system I was glad to leave.

      1. fishy*

        Second this! The union that I’m covered under believes that performance awards (both monetary and time-off) are not being given out fairly by my agency, which caused everything to be delayed this year. It’s not speed to be fair because it’s a bonus for those who go above and beyond…

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        I could write a book about unions! LOL

        But local government departments, especially small local government ones, have a lot of nepotism and cronyism involved in who is hired and promoted. It really can be like a small family business- only with Fergus having friends and relatives both in the top office and in the top union positions. There is probably a reason Fergus’s direct supervisor was unwilling to discipline him.

        I really applaud the OP’s efforts and I hope she brings about more sane behavior. I just wonder at the uphill battle she’s going to be fighting, and not just from the ones she’s able to write up!

        1. ilikeaskamanager*

          I have had a different experience with unions. A good union contract can help clarify expectations and consequences and hold all parties accountable. The key is the content and having the right people work on the contract language. I have seen the union contract actually help get rid of a poorly performing employee who had some kind of in with management. Sure there is tension between management, who wants flexibility, and employees, who want predictability, but not all union contracts are horrible. I speak as both an employee who worked under a union contract and who later was part of management sitting on the other side of the table.

          1. Candi*

            Can we get you out here to help negotiate the next teachers’ contract? If you’re below principal level, you get shafted by the union.

            One thing that’s still in the contract: a couple years ago, an English teacher was diagnosed with cancer in August. She had to have chemo a couple times a week.

            In order to keep her health benefits, she HAD TO come in one day a week. When she was on chemo and medications so strong she could barely stay upright in the chair.

            This prevented the school from getting a long-term sub or at least a student teacher. There were a lot of one to four day subs. And only two or three showed up twice during that semester.

            The only two kids who got passing grades were the two whose parents were military and being relocated. For the others, there were so many missing assignments they all had to take a recovery class. The next year. In an elective slot. You know, the extra things that colleges look at.

            I looked into summer school for my son, since he was affected. $250 for high schoolers, $175 if you could cough up a DSHS number or were otherwise low income. (That might be the state’s decision.)

            But the higher ups in the union and administration above district level get all their goodies.

            We could use someone with sense at the negotiating table.

    1. NW Mossy*

      A clear majority of companies that I have worked for have fired people for it, and we’re not talking about places that are unclear about professional norms. You’d be amazed at how many people think they’re being oh-so-subtle about it.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          When I took my first post-college job, my boss gave me a laptop to use at home. I started using it and found a copy of the Paris Hilton sex tape on it. I didn’t want him to think *I* put it on there, so I had a talk with him the next day. “Soooo…this is awkward, but the laptop you gave me has an adult video on it, and I just wanted you to know that I did not put it on there.” Turns out one of our investing partners had used the laptop for a few days when he was in town, and he’s the one who was downloading adult content.

            1. Bonky*

              Oh god. I’m just hyperventilating and thinking about the best way to clean a keyboard at this point.

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                IT should have been freaking out about “cleaning” the hard drive, too; a LOT of malware is distributed through pr0n sites.

                1. Catnip Melba Toast*

                  Amazingly, this is how employees most often get busted where I work. The laptop starts acting strange, and the person takes it to IT to be fixed. IT finds porn that was downloaded, bringing a virus with it. IT tells them to stop downloading porn, but there are always repeat offenders.

                2. Candi*

                  That’s how the county library system maintained its right not to allow porn viewing on the public computers; the accompanying bugs “damage public property and cost taxpayers funds”.

                  On the flip side, the judge said they had to ban any site that could cause damage, so benign but low security sites are also blocked. But you can view them on your own device.

      1. CDL*

        People definitely think they’re being subtle. A previous company had several people who were caught looking at inappropriate sites, and they were senior employees at a large international professional services firm. They were shocked that they were caught. It boggles my mind!

      2. Turanga Leela*

        My company issues phones and laptops that we are encouraged to use as our personal devices, and I have always wondered if other people use them for porn at home. There’s no policy about this, and I’m positive no one is logging our keystrokes or internet history. For me, it’s just ingrained that this is a work device, and therefore porn is off-limits… but I doubt all my coworkers feel the same way.

        1. There's something wrong with these people*

          I have a work phone and no way in hell would I use it to watch porn. I will get my own device for those purposes.

      3. Jessesgirl72*

        Yes. I know someone in IT who found it on the laptops of a couple people who used their laptops for business travel 2 weeks out of 4. She tried the route of first warning them that she’d found it, cleaned it off, but if it happened again she’d have to report them. It happened again. With both. And they were fairly high level employees, who found themselves fired as a result.

        I don’t know of anyplace that hasn’t had to fire people over porn.

        For the most part, I think these employees really think they’re not going to get caught, because they don’t think their computers are being monitored.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          Our IT guy got fired for watching porn at work. He was in the basement in a closed office… First time I’d every seen us fire someone summarily.

        2. Chris*

          This is a pretty good update. I applaud the OP for writing a policy that translates to ‘behave like professional adults’ without straying too far into draconian ‘over-specific’ rules about specific behaviours. I find you get far better results from a behavioral policy if you make it as general and goal-focused as possible. Sadly, I find too many companies that seem to disagree, when I have a chance to review their own policies.

          Occasionally, though, you have to address ‘hot button topics’ that even in a professional workplace can cause conflict. I had to write a similar email a while back that I’ll share for reference, should anyone want to borrow.

          “We intentionally minimize ‘rules’ and ‘management’ at Teapots, Inc. In order to best allow everyone to work to their full potential and have the maximum ability to provide intelligent input to our project work, we try wherever possible to allow people to own their work, to freely make decisions, to come up with better ideas, and to improve the things we do on a continual basis. We strongly encourage people to support others within the team, provide mentoring and growth opportunities, and to care about the success of the group as a whole. We encourage new ideas, out of the box thinking, and creative solutions that provide value to our customers.

          We don’t, as a company, feel you can achieve that sort of environment, or truly give that level of creativity, responsibility and possibility to people, when you are locked into a rigid environment with strict rules. With this level of personal freedom, comes a matching level of expected personal responsibility and maturity. So I’m not going to tell people they can’t have personal opinions, or form friendships at work, or discuss non work topics in the office. I’m simply going to tell you this:

          The expectation is that those conversations are respectful, and not something that would cause concern or reflect negatively on Teapots, Inc. if a random customer walked by.

          Because I think it’s important that you understand how the leadership within the Teapot Handle team approaches these issues, my own personal viewpoint is very simple.

          Your gender identification, sexuality, religious views, ethnic background, hair color, or other personal characteristics / beliefs are 100% irrelevant to what you bring to the team. If you choose to share these items with your co-workers, that’s up to you.

          What matters to ME, and ALL that matters to me, as far as these items are concerned, is how well you support the needs of our customers, what skill set you bring to our work, whether you bring a positive and supportive outlook to your teamwork, and whether you are learning and improving and growing to your own potential. That is the standard I, and leadership, will enforce within the Teapot Handle team.

          Any questions? My door is always open. “

      4. Formica Dinette*

        I have only worked at one place where I know someone was fired for watching porn. I’m not sure if that means more people at those companies have gotten away with it or fewer people have done it.

    2. pope suburban*

      It’s surprisingly common. We had an employee who was surfing the craigslist personals, which are…pretty dang lewd as these things go. Not a lot of people looking for a date to the malt shop, one might say. How did we find out? Why, he asked me a question about craigslist (I’m our de facto IT department) which I thought was work-related, as we sometimes buy vehicles or vehicle accessories off the site. Imagine my surprise when he shows me a personals ad that prominently features– there is no delicate way to say this– some man’s upstanding anatomy. I was horrified and told him that I couldn’t help and he needed to leave. I wish I could say we’d gotten a list of guidelines like this letter writer drew up, but he didn’t get in any kind of trouble for it. The guy’s manager and our HR person were horrified, but our CEO is conflict-averse to the point of *my* pain, so there it was. I honestly didn’t think it was something people would do, but…I had underestimated people.

    3. University Lawyer*

      I used to work as an attorney at a public university, defending any claims that filed against the campus or its employees (including claims filed by other employees). I was assigned to to represent the school and a specific professor against a sexual harassment claim by his secretary.

      I went to meet with my client.

      “Why were you watching porn on your computer screen,” I asked.

      “I was doing research about sexuality,” he replied, which was vaguely plausible, given his department.

      “But why were you bottomless?” I asked. “I had spilled something on my pants that soaked through to my underwear, so I took everything off,” he replied.

      “OK, but why did you call your secretary in *while you were watching pornography bottomless*?” At last, the real question.

      “Well,” he said, “I needed to ask her something, and just didn’t think about it. It was very embarrassing.”

      This plainly would not be the easiest case to defend. But wait, there’s more!

      “OK, but why did you call her in *again* a month later, when you were *once again* pantsless and watching pornography on your computer?”

      “I know it seems strange, but it all kind of happened again.”

      I have rarely been motivated to settle a case so quickly. Really, in all my years of defending university employees, I thankfully never saw such a clear-cut case against the school again.

      1. Too far over the line*

        More like, spilled something on his underwear that soaked through to his pants, I’m guessing.

        ….ew, now I’ve grossed myself out.

      2. Jeanne*

        How pathetic. He actually thought his secretary would enjoy his personal porn movie scenario. Disgusting.

    4. Yup*

      I’ve worked in HR for 7 years now, and am now at my third company (#trailingspouseproblem). I’ve fired four people in my career for watching porn at work on work computers and am aware of at least two others that got fired by others in my dept. And I once had to talk to my IT department because a new employee’s computer wasn’t properly wiped before she received it and it had some rather lewd photos of a former employee (the one who had used the computer previously) and his wife.

      I’ve also fired two employees for having sex while at work, on the clock.

      1. Jeanne*

        I feel like such a prude not having any desire to watch porn or have sex while at work. Who are these people?

        1. So Very Anon for this*

          I’ve done both of those things in the past. What can I say? Forbidden fruit is sweeter …

        2. Duffel of Doom*

          I scheduled someone for a phone interview, only to discover he had his G+ profile pic (linked to the email account we were communicating through) set to a video of him getting a blowjob.

          I canceled the interview.

          1. Duffel of Doom*

            Ack, my last sentence vanished, but my reason for posting was: I never wanted to watch porn at work either, but ended up having to :(

            1. animaniactoo*

              To be fair to the guy though, Google did a REALLY bad job of introducing and then actually securing privacy between using G+ and GMail. It’s very likely the guy had no idea that his profile pic was showing up in his emails. For a company which had previously been so strong on privacy controls and rights, it took a very long time for them to even admit there was a problem (like my godmother’s last name showing up as visible to anyone with a G+ account even though she had no G+ account which was supposed to be the “opt-in” for that visibility).

      2. Jenbug*

        At OldJob, two people got fired for having sex in the office bathroom after hours. They wouldn’t have gotten caught if they hadn’t BRAGGED about it.

      3. JM60*

        I’ll probably get hate for saying this, but I think it’s a bit ridiculous that watching pr0n on company or equipment is always seen as a one-strike-and-you’re-out situation. If i were in charge, I would probably punish the first offense with a warning plus maybe a short suspension, then a longer suspension the next time, then termination, provided they’ve been a productive employee for a while and were trying to be decrete. Sure, it’s very unprofessional, but usually the worst that would happen is that someone is crossed out by witnessing it. I think the reason why it usually results in automatic termination is because it’s more taboo than it needs to be, even though it’s something that most people watch on a regular or semi regular basis.

        1. JM60*

          “but usually the worst that would happen is that someone is crossed out by witnessing it.”

          I mean grossed out. I’m submitting this via my phone.

        2. BuildMeUp*

          Watching it at work is different than watching it at home, though. And someone being grossed out isn’t really the worst that could happen – someone watching porn where others can see it can be considered sexual harassment, and at the very least can create an incredibly uncomfortable work environment.

          1. JM60*

            “Watching it at work is different than watching it at home, though.”

            I agree.

            “someone watching porn where others can see it can be considered sexual harassment”

            Much like a joke can be sexual harassment, I think this is a matter of degree based on context. Calling a coworker over to show them some pr0n is obviously sexual harassment because it targets someone. It’s a lot harder to consider discretely viewing it without wanting anyone to notice to be sexual harassment.

            1. Wwr*

              There are degrees of sexual harassment. But when you view porn at work, where there is really no expectation of privacy, you KNOW that you’re potentially exposing non-consenting parties to sexual material and/or behavior. Intention doesn’t really matter, because the consequences are clear from the beginning. It’s like drunk driving. Most of the time, no one gets hurt, and the drunk driver doesn’t WANT to hurt anyone. Why so harsh? Because it needs to be zero tolerance behavior regardless of your intent.

              (Yes, I realize this is a very imperfect metaphor, but just let me have this one)

              1. JM60*

                “There are degrees of sexual harassment. But when you view porn at work, where there is really no expectation of privacy, you KNOW that you’re potentially exposing non-consenting parties to sexual material and/or behavior. Intention doesn’t really matter, because the consequences are clear from the beginning. It’s like drunk driving. Most of the time, no one gets hurt, and the drunk driver doesn’t WANT to hurt anyone. Why so harsh? Because it needs to be zero tolerance behavior regardless of your intent.”

                Yet again, that applies to jokes too, yet I think most people would agree that it’s a bit ridiculous to make a single sexual joke be an automatic termination, even if it could be addressed using a means other than to terminate an employee who has been in good standing for many years.

                1. Gadfly*

                  It depends on the joke. Some jokes are like a suggestive image. Some jokes are explicit, like porn. The former are not as serious as the latter.

            2. Gadfly*

              The problem is porn is by its nature at the extreme end of things. To continue the the joke comparision, you can have jokes that are questionable or slightly off color. You can have, similarly, videos or images that are suggestive. You can also have jokes that are blatantly problematic (racist/sexist/etc.–anyone really want to argue about things like the currently infamous ‘ape in heels’ “joke”?) Porn is more like the latter (even before considering how many issues there are with much of mainstream porn in terms of sexism, racism, etc.) It is explicit. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be porn. It also does something a joke does not–it is designed to arouse passions and desires it would be inappropriate to act upon in the work place. And it isn’t just about the wobbly bits being on display. I’d have similar issues to people watching videos to prep them for evangelical work where coworkers and/or clients would be exposed to messages about how they are all unrepentant sinners and unworthy and untrustworthy and such.

        3. Kyrielle*

          It’s a waste of time they should be working; it potentially introduces malware to the company equipment (porn sites are rather notorious for that, if you’re surfing and not being careful you probably will pick up a virus, spyware, etc.), it’s lousy for bandwidth if it’s video or a lot of large pictures (which is bandwidth not being spent on work activities), and it can and does make coworkers uncomfortable (and clients, if it’s in their view), in ways that can end in possibly-valid lawsuits. This is pretty universally Not Okay and Not Professional. I’m fine with people who can’t follow basic professional norms being shown the door, either immediately or after one warning.

          1. JM60*

            “It’s a waste of time they should be working”

            That’s the case with a lot of things that aren’t treated with automatic termination, and is sometimes allowed, including personal emails, personal calls, browsing the Internet for non work reasons, etc.

            “it potentially introduces malware to the company equipment”

            The key word is potentially. I believe most of the time when employees view it at work, it’s on their own phone. Even if they use the companies device, their likelihood of getting mallard will depend on the os and on how technical they are. The average software developer probably rarely gets malware from their pr0n viewing habits at home.

            “lousy for bandwidth if it’s video or a lot of large pictures”

            This can be said about a lot of things that aren’t always treated with immediate termination.

            ” in ways that can end in possibly-valid lawsuits.”

            This is a valid concern, but I’d doubt that many lawsuits have been won because an employer only earned or suspended someone because of pr0n.

            “This is pretty universally Not Okay and Not Professional. I’m fine with people who can’t follow basic professional norms being shown the door, either immediately or after one warning.”

            I can think of lots of scenarios in which i (and probably most other people) would want to keep someone in spite of the fact that they’ve broke some very basic rule of professionalism, at least long enough to address the problem and move on. Yet on this issue, is almost universally tested with immediate termination, regardless of the person’s staving before that.

            I’m not dating it is okay, I’m saying it’s treated disproportionately. I personally consider not checking emails for 2 months (or even a week) to be more termination worthy than someone discretely viewing pr0n at work.

            1. Kyrielle*

              Enh, I’d argue it’s either immediate termination or a one-warning-then-terminate offense. It’s bringing sexuality into an environment where it does not belong. (Assuming the business isn’t a call-girl business, or a brothel, or the like.)

              That said, I _also_ would consider not checking email for 2 months (or even a week, assuming one wasn’t on vacation) to be termination-worthy. (Although in that case I would be/was surprised that the issue wasn’t caught and addressed sooner than 2 months in.)

        4. Laura H*

          Forcing others into sexual situations without their consent (which is the situation if someone witnesses it) isn’t “more taboo than it needs to be”. I’m not bothered by anyone watching porn on their own time, but to pretend it’s a gray area about whether people should be able to watch it at work is ridiculous. People who have the poor judgement to watch porn on company time and computers are highly unlikely to be worth retaining.

          This isn’t about people being too priggish about sex; there are things that don’t belong in the workplace. Do you drink on the job? Do you use drugs on the job? Gamble? These are all things that I believe adults have the right to choose to do on their own time, but adults who think they deserve to be able to do these things whenever they want, such as at work, don’t have my sympathy. It’s selfish and stupid behavior.

          1. JM60*

            “Forcing others into sexual situations without their consent (which is the situation if someone witnesses it) isn’t “more taboo than it needs to be”.”

            Those statement aren’t mutually exclusive. Watching pr0n at work is very unprofessional for the reason you started; It puts someone in that situation where they witness something sexual, and are even loosely involved. However, I think that always treating it with termination on the spot is the result of pr0n in general betting seen as more taboo than needed. I personally feel that not responding to emails for 60 days, are even 30 or 20 days, is probably more termination worthy.

            “This isn’t about people being too priggish about sex; there are things that don’t belong in the workplace. Do you drink on the job? Do you use drugs on the job? ”

            While watching pr0n at work is more unprofessional than drinking at work (especially if it’s moderate drinking) perhaps I view unprofessionalism as something that should be treated on a case by car basis, while you see things as more back and white. My employer (a software company) sometimes offers alcohol during work hours.

        5. pope suburban*

          Speaking for myself, as someone who is sex-positive and who has Seen Things during five years moderating a very large website (So no sensibilities left here, certainly not any delicate ones), it’s more than that, or can be. Just like people were discussing in the comments on the letter about the employee wanting everyone to call her boyfriend “master,” it’s not cool to involve people in sexual situations without their consent. When someone showed me pornographic material on his work phone (Which may or may not have been his own anatomy, hurk), it felt like a violation. Which it was, even if I would also term it a minor one. I don’t want to know about someone’s sexual preferences, nor do I want to be involved in any fetish where someone enjoys forcing people into sexual situations or surprising people with sexual material. That I had to continue to work with this person (Though I’ll admit that him not even getting a write-up was worse than what you’re suggesting here) showed me some very uncomfortable things about the company. It showed me that my safety was not respected, and that my complaints would not be heeded. Plus, if I may be frank, this guy was about twelve different kinds of disgusting *before* the incident, and knowing that the cost of keeping food on the table was going to include possibly being involved in his sex life again was stomach-churning. So this is a bit of a deeper issue, although of course different people are going to feel differently about it.

          1. JM60*

            “it’s not cool to involve people in sexual situations without their consent.”

            As you can see in one of my other replies, i agree that viewing that material at work is wrong for the reason you suggest. In your situation, (him intentionally showing it to you, him being “about twelve different kinds of disgusting *before* the incident”) is well beyond merely viewing pr0n at work, and probably termination worthy. However, it seems that most companies treat any viewing of pr0n at work to be on the same level as what that guy was doing.

            Most unprofessional things are treated on a case by case basis, but this issue usually isn’t.

            1. SebbyGrrl*

              I appreciate that you are trying to clarify the issue in terms of zero tolerance vs stepped consequences JM.

              But NO, just NO.

              At work we are expected to be adults and behave within certain boundaries, adult material is way outside of those boundaries, NSFW ever and seriously the invasion of my work environment by someone else’s poor impulse control is never acceptable.

              Most significantly it erodes respect, for yourself, your team/office/company, your chain of command – EVERYTHING.

              If I know my co-worker is doing this and have reported it to my supervisor and nothing changes or happens – well now I am not safe w co-worker and have no reason to believe my supervisor is acting in our best interests and it eventually goes all the way to the top – if X person won’t take a stand against this, what happens when he sends me inappropriate materials at work, blocks my path leaving the office? And so on and so on.

              This is literally LITERALLY what Hostile work environment encompasses.

              I’ve experienced it in multiple jobs and arenas (private sector, military, non-profit).

              And based on all of that experience I say you are a man and you are just trying to justify/normalize this because of a personal preference.

              The place I go to earn a living should not be intruded upon by your personal preference.

              Keep personal preferences personal, at home-not in your cube, not your office, not in work bathroom, not on the bus, not in the seat next to me on an airplane.

              No one who is not involved with you personally, romantically or sexually should EVER have any reason to be exposed to anyone else’s sexual interests.

              You can thank all the people who have done this that negatively effected me for your tax dollars going to support (for the next 30+ years) me because I can no longer function in an organized workplace because too many idiots were allowed too many chances.

              1. JM60*

                I’m sorry about how you’ve been treated.

                I can’t really give a thorough response at the moment, but I’m not suggesting that nothing be done about an employee watching adult material at work. There is a lot of space between doing nothing and immediate, automatic termination.

            2. pope suburban*

              The tricky thing with porn is the optics, though. That’s what I wanted to touch on with discussing how I felt about my company, though I probably should have been clearer. Someone who sees or hears a coworker’s porn may– probably will, really– feel uncomfortable. Should their coworker remain in their job, well, it’s going to look like what they did was okay, or that the employee’s right not to be subjected to sexual situation at work is unimportant/secondary. That’s pretty bad for morale, and it can intersect with a lot of other dynamics (Gender differences/distributions, sexual orientations, whether someone is a survivor of sexual violence, or whether or not there is a lot of public contact are some that come to mind, though I’m sure there are others) in charged ways. I mean, I *knew* my company was a hotbed of dysfunction before, but the idea that it was just a job hazard to see someone’s anatomy? That it was okay to have put me in that position? I gave long and serious thought to a lawsuit, and I would have quit in a second if I could have afforded it, because the message to me was one of contempt. That’s a lot of potential headache over someone doing something that is unequivocally, well, NSFW. We’re not talking about an obscure facet of HR etiquette here, we’re talking about someone who has created a situation that is really likely to blow up in the company’s metaphorical face by doing something that is way out of turn. Given that, yeah, I can understand why companies might adopt a zero-tolerance policy about watching porn on company time/equipment.

              1. JM60*

                I make a big distinction between someone who view it while trying to hide it from others and those who don’t. In the latter case, intentionally showing it to coworkers is clearly harassment for which termination is appropriate. However, for situations such as someone trying to discretely look at images on their phone without others noticing, i think there are appropriate intermediate approaches between doing nothing and termination.

                1. pope suburban*

                  Why do they need to be doing that at work, though? Why do they need to create that risk that someone will see? Plenty of people wait until they are off the clock to pay bills, have non-emergency personal phone conversations, and engage in sexual funtimes. I mean, we’re not talking about a basic life necessity like having access to a bathroom, or a minor distraction like someone taking five minutes to check their own email. We’re talking about someone choosing to, while on the clock and around other people, look at adult media. We’re talking about someone going out of their way to do something that is controversial and in no way necessary, and I’m not sure how much latitude they’re owed for something like that. Like…why do people need to do this? I’m trying really hard to find a reasonable justification for ever doing this and I’m not finding even one.

                2. SebbyGrrl*

                  Thank you JM.

                  I do appreciate part of what you are trying to say.

                  However, we don’t need apologies, we need everyone in our workplace to understand the true cost of bad behavior – it costs everyone time, productivity and money.

                  The people who haven’t been fired are costing your state disability system your hard earned money.

                  When that balance is weighed I think the reasons for zero tolerance become obvious.

                  Do you want your company to have to lay you off or x number of coworkers, charge more for benefits, loose other benefits because a lawsuit cost the company $$$ instead of stopping the bad behavior at the start?

                3. JM60*

                  Response to pope suburban (I’ve reached the bottom of the comment tree, so I’m responding here):

                  “Why do they need to be doing that at work, though?”

                  I suspect for the same reasons people do other unnecessary personal things at work. It could be out of boredom (I suspect very few people don’t get bored sometime during their typical workday), distractability, or because they’re addicted to whatever it is. This is obviously a problem (except for certain jobs/employers). The question for all of these is what to do about it, and when it becomes a big enough problem that the negatives of keeping a particular employee in spite of it outweighs the positives of keeping the employee. Of course, something like watching adult material has the potential to be harassment, which definitely heavily factors into the equation, but it’s the same general equation.

                  Nowadays, I suspect that there are a lot more edge cases than previously, some of which were mentioned in this thread. For instance, coming across pr0n when searching for something work related. Someone who checks every text they recieve while at work, but will also sext using the same phone may end up displaying pr0n from a previous sexting buddy. I’ve come across a lot of gay men who use hookup apps to socialize with others gay people during their break (while using it for other purposes away from work) which risks nude images being displayed on their phone at work (in site straight people often do the same, but there’s more incentive for gay people to do this because of feelings of oscillation) . I’m sure that most people who get fired for viewing adult material at work have gone beyond these cases, but I don’t think it’s as black and white as most businesses treat it.

                4. JM60*

                  Response to SebbyGrrl

                  “The people who haven’t been fired are costing your state disability system your hard earned money.

                  When that balance is weighed I think the reasons for zero tolerance become obvious.”

                  Much like for other problems where what one employee does affects another, I think the cost can vary greatly on the particulars. The cost of someone harassing other employees by showing them pr0n I believe is a lot greater than an employee who tried to discretely view it without anyone else seeing it.

                5. Dot Warner*

                  JM, about being bored at work, there are a million things one can do to alleviate boredom at work that don’t involve watching porn. You could read articles related to your field, read the news, read blogs, check personal email, do crossword puzzles or Sudoku, play non-porn games on your phone, chat with your coworkers, start your Great American Novel, knit/crochet, read a book…. you get the idea. I get that some jobs just have lots of downtime (mine does), but if somebody tells me they were watching porn at work because they were bored, that’s both an egregious violation and a sign that they weren’t looking for other things to do.

                  As with your edge case examples… why do you need to use a hookup app at work? Why would you open a text thread that you know has porn in it? And why on Earth didn’t you turn on SafeSearch? As pope suburban said, this is really outrageous behavior that these people can very easily wait until they get home to do, and I really can’t find any justification for keeping someone around who thinks this is even remotely OK.

                6. Zombii*

                  @Dot Warner | I’m not JM but my last workplace was horrifically technologically illiterate and no one there even knew what SafeSearch was. People occasionally found porn in Google image searches while looking for innocuous images to add to the newsletter or similar projects. They mostly reacted by turning red and scrolling down fast and it was never that big of a deal.

                  Was your implication that people would claim they had found porn “by accident” which shouldn’t be an excuse, because SafeSearch? If not, I don’t understand why people who find surprise!porn should be treated as harshly as you suggest.

                7. JM60*

                  @Dot Warner

                  In the post you’re responding to, I’m providing explanations, not justifications. There’s a big difference.

                  “As with your edge case examples… why do you need to use a hookup app at work?”

                  I gave one possible explanation for why someone would do it. They’ve gotten into the habit of using a hookup app as their local community of gay people to alleviate their feeling of isolation. It’s really stupid to do at work, but I don’t think it should always be an automatic termination.

                  “And why on Earth didn’t you turn on SafeSearch? As pope suburban said, this is really outrageous behavior that these people can very easily wait until they get home to do, and I really can’t find any justification for keeping someone around who thinks this is even remotely OK.”

                  People should always use SafeSearch at work. However, there are about a half dozen people in this thread who say that they’ve inadvertently ran into porn because they didn’t think to turn on SafeSearch. Do you really think they should’ve all been automatically fired for not thinking to use SafeSearch before searching for images of cakes? If so, I think that’s ridiculous.

                8. Dot Warner*

                  @Zombii, interesting. Most of the places I’ve worked have the website blocking software cranked up to 11. If it truly is an accident, then nevermind.

                  @JM, but you yourself said that using the hookup app is a really stupid thing to do. IDGAF if a guy wants to use Grindr on his own time, but given the photos that guys exchange on that app, I can’t imagine why anybody’d think it would be OK to do that at work. (Also, it’s been my experience that nobody is ever as discrete about looking at their phone as they think they are.)

                9. pope suburban*

                  Yeah, Dot Warner about covered the options for dealing with boredom at work. There is no reason to involve adult, sexual content in one’s workday (Well, aside from certain researchers and video-production folks). People who choose to do this– and it is a choice– are choosing to potentially involve other people, nonconsensually, in their sex life. I can’t find a good defense for that, and I am baffled that anyone is being asked to think of the NSFW feelings above the feelings of coworkers, clients, and vendors, a group that will at some point overlap with survivors of sexual violence and/or people with religious beliefs or strong cultural taboos against sex/nudity/porn.

                  I just…this is getting a bit surreal because it is playing out my own lived experience with being told that it’s okay to show me dick pics. I’m at the absolute limit and I can’t think of a single thing that will advance the conversation. So I guess good luck with that?

                10. JM60*

                  @Dot Warner

                  “interesting. Most of the places I’ve worked have the website blocking software cranked up to 11. If it truly is an accident, then nevermind.”

                  I’m glad you clarified that.

                  My company hasn’t installed any blocking software,although I’m sure they log which URLs we visit. I have to force safe search myself.

                  “but you yourself said that using the hookup app is a really stupid thing to do.”

                  You say that as if I’m contradicting myself. I never said using a hookup app at work was wise; I’ve only explained why some people do it, and why I don’t think that it should always be an automatic termination.

                11. JM60*

                  @pope suburban

                  “People who choose to do this– and it is a choice– are choosing to potentially involve other people, nonconsensually, in their sex life.”

                  Is the same thing with making a sexual joke, which I think can potentially be much worse than mere exposure to pr0n (in terms of harassment). Yet, I think most reasonable people would agree that automatic termination of a long time employee who was in good standing over a single incident of them telling such joke is usually overkill. Obviously, if it’s a repeated problem, that’s a different story.

                  “I am baffled that anyone is being asked to think of the NSFW feelings above the feelings of coworkers, clients, and vendors, a group that will at some point overlap with survivors of sexual violence and/or people with religious beliefs or strong cultural taboos against sex/nudity/porn.”

                  Do you really think that I’m doing that? If so, I think that’s a grave misunderstanding of what I’ve said. I’ve gone out of my way to say that watching such material at work isn’t okay, and should be dealt with. The mere fact that I find automatic termination, regardless of the particulars or of previous standing, to be ridiculous, doesn’t mean I think it should be tolerated.

    5. HRish Dude*

      I’ve accidentally come across porn in the google image search while looking for a clip art for posters. It’s kind of horrifying.

      1. Charlie*

        I googled the name of a Japanese Mars probe that also apparently is the name of a Japanese porn star. With my boss looking over my shoulder. I just turned to her and was like, “Well, that was an unfortunate mission name.”

        1. anonderella*

          oh god I find porn when I search for Happy Birthday clip art for email notifications.

          and a *very* happy birthday to *you*.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I used to find the same stuff when looking for cake pictures (at OldExjob, I sent out notifications with a cake pic on them). Sometimes I’d find dick cake pics. It happened so often I had to turn on safe search because people walking in the door behind me could see my monitor. No, I did not click on them!

      2. animaniactoo*

        I was once trying to find an item for a prototype sample and couldn’t find quite what I was looking for but everything close was produced by a company called “Rainbow Toys”. I took a stab in the dark and tried to find the company via http://www.rainbowtoys.com. It was an adult toy store site. That popped up just as the owner of my company walked past my screen. I have never been so grateful for the “Home” button in my life. Fortunately he didn’t see it as I would have sat there babbling all over myself trying to explain.

        However, I am aware that other people have not had excuses that were that innocent, and yeah, it’s spelled out in our company handbook too.

      3. Kyrielle*

        Yes! If you don’t ever need that sort of image, turning on SafeSearch on google on your computer will save you from needing brain bleach.

      4. plain_jane*

        I was trying to find a recipe on Pinterest (after work hours on the work machine) and apparently chose a bad combination of potential ingredients to use for my search.

        I am now much better about putting the word “recipe” before my searches.

      5. KTB*

        That happens at my work from time to time too. I love it when we get a company wide email telling us about a project or program that also includes the phrase: “FYI: don’t Google [x]. You’ve been warned.”

      6. pope suburban*

        Rule 34 is real, and it’s often terrifying. Though I wouldn’t consider accidental porn in image search results to be “looking at porn at work” by any means. “Incredibly awkward,” sure, but not an HR foul.

        1. Old Admin*

          “Though I wouldn’t consider accidental porn in image search results to be “looking at porn at work” by any means. “Incredibly awkward,” sure, but not an HR foul.”

          I disagree, having had an incident with my company based on a much more innocent mistake:
          I once misdialled on the phone, and accidentally called an overseas country! I immediately hung up when I heard a foreign ring tone.
          Even so, I was soon after cited to the company finance officer/HR, and was crossexamined why I had made a five second phone call to overseas. My explanation of an innocent mistake was taken with great mistrust… I offered to pay any incurred costs, and never heard about it again.

      7. Cath in Canada*

        Yeah, I was once looking for the email address of a professor who apparently has the same name as an actress. When the Google search for just her name didn’t bring up her faculty page, I started to add in her research specialty, which unfortunately was breast cancer. I’m glad no-one was looking over my shoulder when the instant search results for [actress name] breast started showing up.

    6. JokersandRogues*

      I worked at one place that had an employee who segmented off part of a server and was running a porn site for 6 months before they caught him.

    7. Anon13*

      It actually happened at the SEC a few years back. And these were high level employees! It feels great to know that government employees making six figures were watching porn at work during the financial crisis, doesn’t it?

    8. Knitchic*

      Horrifying yet kind of funny in a cringey way story…
      Once upon a time a security guard at work used our bathrooms for his restroom break. (Think strip mall, it’s were the nicest and cleanest.) He left his phone in the family restroom. The customer who followed him in shut the door and joke not ten seconds later he’s back pounding on that door hollering about leaving his phone on there. She stalks out, irate, power walks up to our customer service desk, hands the phone that was still streaming porn to the manager, points to the security guard, and walks out. It was his first day. He was still training. Sooo fired. We still laugh about the look on his face when she blew past him.

    9. Tiger Snake*

      I’m afraid that basically every mid-size or larger company has had at least one person caught watching porn at work – generally more. Its just that prevalent. And for every one that’s caught, you should assume there’s another three people you just haven’t detected yet.

      I’m in the right industry to have heard stories of companies discovering users had downloaded completely illegal content while at work – and to have the companies still struggling to get the user formally fired even after this court conviction, because their policies weren’t explicit enough.

  3. Fafaflunkie*

    May I please have your permission to copy and paste this so I can stick this up on the staff bulletin board? Oh, how so many of your problems are my problems as well, especially the phones and the punctuality. :^P

    1. Elle*

      It’s funny, a lot of these would apply at my workplace as well! Perhaps they are universal workplace problems!

      1. Fafaflunkie*

        You are so right. I’m sure most every office has an employee (or two or three or twenty) that definitely needs to be reminded of where they are and what is expected of them, even if it’s as plain as the nose on their face. Part of my job involves talking on the phone with clients in an open office environment. How many times have I had to gesture certain co-workers to “use your indoor voice, people” when their loud salty utterances are in full ear-shot of the client I’m talking to — microphones on headsets are pretty sensitive — and I have to apologize profusely about it? Too many to count. Grrr…

      2. Jeanne*

        I think these things are pretty standard. It’s a workplace culture that has allowed low standards to be acceptable for a long time. In some cultures, the new employee would be helped by others. “We don’t do personal phone calls here. We have a lot of clients.” But it sounds like OP has a bit of an uphill battle to fight.

  4. LCL*

    Just a word about the on time arrival part.
    If your employees are hourly, sometimes the best you will be able to do is have them account for their time honestly and use their allowed leave if they are late. It’s what I had to do, and I have been told our group is stricter about this than other groups. The employee who was most irate about the change was one of the other managers, who always got whistlebit and thought everyone had the same overdeveloped work ethic as him.

    If you are in a union environment, the contract can be your friend. Typically the work day times are clearly stated. You can just tell your people ‘no, I won’t allow you to make up time. Our labor agreement doesn’t allow it. Previous managers who did were in violation of the contract.’

    1. Not A Morning Person*

      On time arrival is also dictated by the job. If an employee is expected to answer the phones when clients or customers arrive or call whatever the time, then being ready to serve clients and customers at that time is the requirement. I’ve worked at places that let staff go if they couldn’t manage to be ready to serve clients and customers at the start of their work day or their shift. It’s not unheard of to terminate employees for lateness. It just depends on the job and the organization’s rules or tolerances.

      1. Jeanne*

        In some jobs, you can have the flexibility of 15 minutes. It sounds like this job has specific hours for a client facing role. The employees should get there on time.

      2. DragoCucina*

        Well said Not a Morning Person. It’s important to start on time so all the daily prep can be done. It’s not right to steal 5-10 minutes from someone else because they had to “your” assigned task. They deserve to be able to visit the restroom, get coffee, etc., before the doors open.

      1. Bonky*

        I’ll second that: I’m not seeing the OP taking things overly personally here at all. She’s inherited a totally dysfunctional team. It’s her responsibility to fix it – and she seems to be doing a fine job.

    1. Is it Friday Yet?*

      I don’t think the OP took this personally. I think OP is pretty annoyed that clear expectations were set and then flat out ignored.

    2. Kyrielle*

      I don’t think it was at all personal! I admit, I was thinking “oh no, our OP went off the rails!” when I saw the bit about rules, but then I saw *what the rules were*…remembering the OP said they were all based on recent occurrences. Most of these things should _never need to be said_ to any functional adult. Obviously, they do need to be said, but…they shouldn’t need to be. OP didn’t go off the rails, OP’s team on the other hand…I’m not sure they necessarily know where the rails _are_.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The guy is a massive fail at his job and needs remedial level advice. I think OP has gone above and beyond the call of duty here as this employee does not even have some basic grasp of how to hold down a job.

  5. LawCat*

    “I followed the Fergus meeting up with a department-by-department discussion with all of our employees about what professionalism in a public agency means.”

    Are all employees Problem Employees? I’m just curious how this went down as it seems really broad.

    1. LSP*

      If I were in an environment where the kind of behavior OP is outlining were taking place, I’d be glad to know that strict rules were being laid out to curb it. It’s only overly broad if it’s one or two people. OP says there is a larger problem.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        Right, and some employees who are not capital-letter Problem Employees might still be engaging in problematic behavior if they see it as the norm. With any luck, stating expectations explicitly—and then reinforcing them going forward—will be enough to get them back on track.

        1. Allison*

          Exactly. In many workplaces, there are rules that no one really follows and never get enforced, and people do what seems to be acceptable. I’m usually good about not doing anything personal on the internet when I start a job, then over time I do a little, then a little more, then a little more on slow days. Call me into a meeting and tell me to curb my browsing, it’ll go way down. Tell me to stop and I’ll stop. Say nothing, I’ll assume you don’t know or don’t care as long as I’m getting my work done.

          1. turquoisecow*

            Same here. I generally don’t do personal or not work-related browsing when I’m at work, but if I see all my coworkers are doing the same? Why should I hold myself to a higher standard? Same with phone use. When I first started working, I presumed personal calls/texts were prohibited except in emergency. But all the other workers around me were texting in between customers. When I moved to a non-customer facing job, I also presumed personal phone use was prohibited, but again, I saw other workers doing this. To me, it’s common sense, but to others, not so much. And, while it might have been stated in some employee handbook given to me at the start, I don’t recall it being emphasized by management or posted anywhere.

      2. LawCat*

        I guess some people may appreciate it. I’ve been a high performer and recipient of managerial scoldings directed at everyone, but then later told, “Oh, that wasn’t about YOU.” I did not appreciate it.

        1. Jeanne*

          I am really frustrated when bosses issue broad directives to correct the behavior of one employee. Just talk to her directly. This case sounds like a majority of employees have issues.

          1. DragoCucina*

            But I’ve seen employees assume everyone else is the problem. I can spend two hours getting concert tickets, but that person is messing around when teaching a co-worker how to be a Google power user (job related). Everyone needs to know the standards and that they will be held accountable.

            Then there are the, “Why are you telling me? Everyone else does it too” employees. Unless you can honestly say to yourself that no one else has this problem then you need to decide how you will address it. I refuse to talk details with anyone but managers and HR. I can honestly say everyone knows the rules and will be accountable.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Sometimes a setting can be so out of control that a broad announcement is necessary to signal the dawn of a new era. I have done this myself, started with a new group and listed off some of the things “we would no longer be doing”. I did it because I wanted everyone to have a chance of success. I said things like, “Part of what we are being paid for is our willingness to get along with each other.” I also made other more or less obvious statements.

          Most people picked right up on it. Some were even smiling and nodding in relief. There were a few that I had to say something a second time in a private conversation. But by saying something to the group a peer-pressure kicked in, call it culture maybe, “Hey, remember Boss said we can’t do that anymore.” There was a tendency for them to reinforce the rules with each other, even if it was by simply following the rules. Everyone notices when Jane the cuss-er stops cussing, some internalize that, “Gee, I don’t cuss that much but I better stop cussing at all.” Groups can quickly reinforce the new norms.

          I call it dragging a problem out into the light of day. “Hey, we have a problem with gossiping here. It’s pulling down morale and slowing down workflow. I don’t care what you do off the clock, but when you are here you need to make every effort to work well with everyone. No one gets to pick their coworkers, no one. Try to remember that your cohorts did not get to pick you out either.”

        3. Zombii*

          Me too. ExJob used to have department “meetings” (read: scoldings) that were heavy on passive-aggressive guilt-trips and severe point-by-point explanations of job duties. After the meetings, more than half the people would stay behind to ask for specific feedback so they could improve (and all be told they weren’t part of the problem), while the rest of us left to go back to do the work part of our jobs because anytime anyone asked for specific feedback, they were “never part of the problem.” It was stressful, pointless and a thoughtless waste of everyone’s time.

          I am now very much an advocate of the for the love of god please give specific feedback to the people who are the problem and don’t involve the rest method of management.

          1. DragoCucina*

            We have one staff member who says she wants this direct feedback. When if happens she pouts and doesn’t talk to anyone for three days. It’s usually a relief after she’s made excuses for her behavior.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      We had a couple incidents this year where we, as a department, got a lecture and email for group bad behavior (one was internet policy, the other was a work process failure).

      I honestly found this very frustrating. Am I one of the problem employees? How much time are people on the internet? Do my managers realize I’m on lunch or breaks? Same on the other issue. . .if my project was one of the ones with a problem, I think I should be told about it individually, but we were left wondering.

      1. LawCat*

        I turned into a ball of stress trying to “correct” my behavior that did not need correction. I stopped trusting things my managers said.

        1. KJ*

          Yeah, that is the effect of mass scoldings on me. My manager is famous for them. I’m quitting in two months and the mass scoldings are a big part of why. I’m also her top performer so I know this is going to go over hard… but don’t scold everyone for the sins of one if you want to retain the stars.

          1. Anon again, naturally*

            Our COO sends out a lot of passive-aggressive notes when one or two people is doing something untoward, because she is conflict-averse (I know, having conflicted with her) and doesn’t want to have the one-on-one “You need to cut this out” conversation.

            But she’s better than our CFO, who regularly sends out all-staff “You screwed up your timesheet” emails that call out specific offenders by name.

    3. Bonky*

      It sounds like the culture she’s inherited is a Problem Culture – which means that many of the employees have become Problem Employees. Sounds like she’s doing a great job of trying to sort the whole mess out.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        And that’s why I appreciated how she spoke to employees individually about expectations: that way, instead of broad warnings that people will assume don’t apply to them, everyone is very clear about how they are (or are not) measuring up to standards of professional behavior.

  6. Oryx*

    With the Arrival thing, I understand that for some jobs and hard start time is necessary but sometimes *%#$ happens and there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s an accident on the road that causes an hour long traffic jam or, like me, you live near the snow belt and suddenly the extra half hour you gave yourself to get to work isn’t enough and it takes two to three hours. In those instances I’d hope you’d allow a “I’m running late because of X”

    1. Whats In A Name*

      I had the same thought but am inclined to think that the OP is/would be reasonable (based on the supervisor determines appropriateness, etc….)

      Speaking to my experience only – if you have to have a talk with someone about their tardiness it’s not because they’ve been late due to a wreck on the highway or weather now and then….it’s because they are routinely 5-10 minutes late & think a quick “on my way!” text is acceptable. I realize that is not *always* the case but it has been mine – more than once.

    2. LQ*

      But there is a world of difference between the person who twice a winter calls in and is running late and the person who is running late twice a week. At some point you’re just not a good fit for a job that requires you to be at the office at a certain time if you are constantly incapable of showing up on time even if every single time it is a “good reason”. The job needs to be done and that person isn’t doing it. And most people would be super crabby if they got to the DMV and they said, “whoops couldn’t open but we had a good reason” so you have to have reliable people.

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        This. Tardiness that needs to be Capital-A Addressed generally is not tardiness that has occurred only once in three years, or that occurred on the one obviously snowy day this year. Further, people who are in their seats 2 minutes before start time for 364 days are the ones who get a little bit of slack on day 365 when the train has mechanical problems.

        1. Hershele Ostropoler*

          Except at my girlfriend’s first job after she moved here, where the manager told a normally punctual co-worker who came in late because the train broke down while he was on it that he should have left earlier.

      2. Dot Warner*

        Yes. I get that stuff happens, but if the job requires you to get in at a specific time so that you can talk to customers or let the prior shift go home and you’re routinely 15-20 minutes late, it really doesn’t matter what your excuse is. You’re not meeting the expectation of the job and you need to either start meeting it or ask for a different shift.

        -grumpy night shift worker who has a few day shifters that are notoriously late

        1. Zombii*

          That really sucks. I’m sorry you’re dealing with that and I hope management gets serious with them soon, since their lateness is clearly affecting more than just their own work.

    3. KHB*

      It’s for that reason that at my workplace we have a rule (for meeting deadlines, not arrive on time, but it’s the same general principle) that you need to be on time at least 95% of the time. Yes, sometimes *%#$ happens and you get delayed and it’s beyond your control, but that needs to be the exception, not the rule. If *%#$ is happening every single time, then you need to reorganize your *%#$.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        Precisely: it’s like the Glassbowl Principle (You meet one, you met one. You meet only glassbowls all day, you’re probably the problem).

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I would hope there would be exceptions for rare cases like what you mention, also.

      Sadly, I have seen quite a few places where no exceptions are allowed, period. I had a half hour trip to work. One morning it was icy. I left an hour and a half early. It took me just over two hours to get there. whoops. I got The Treatment for the rest of the week. I decided that the stress of driving was greater than the stress of The Treatment and I decided to call in for bad storms and just put The Treatment under the heading of “the price I gotta pay”.

    1. LSP*

      If it were Terry, he’d have tried to log into his new email account and the computer would have just caught on fire.

      “Oh geez, guys. I’m awfully sorry about that.”

  7. David*

    My high school offered a “Marketing” class, which I put in quotes only because it covered so much more about business than just marketing. It was a very competitive class offered only to juniors and seniors, and you had to apply to get into Marketing 2 in your senior year. Part of this included participation in DECA, which was basically competitive marketing. Our program was one of the top in our state and country based on the number of national champions it produced over the years.

    Now, I highlight all this success to point out that some of the most basic things taught in that course were outlined in this manager’s manifesto. Our teacher would’ve been aghast if any of his students didn’t know that these were accepted and normal behaviors in a work environment. They were the foundation upon which all else was built, particularly the parts about offering good customer service, putting them first, etc.

    25+ years later, when those of us who were part of program reconnect, we always talk about how valuable those lessons were then and how uncommon those behaviors are today. Maybe we were spoiled by an exceptional program, but I will also say that even at our first jobs these sort of things were reinforced. I think the key is that we were all taught these things at a relatively young age, and so it just became second nature. But if someone was never taught this, or if they’re just learning what expected norms are half-way through their careers, I can just imagine how shocking it must be. I mean, they’ve gotten this far in life rolling their eyes at customers or looking at adult websites on the job, so why is it suddenly wrong now?

    1. MsChanandlerBong*

      I have judged DECA competitions for five years, but I don’t meet too many people who have heard of the organization. It’s a great organization, but I’ve noticed that a lot of the really great programs are in well-funded schools, so students who need these lessons the most aren’t getting them.

      1. David*

        We lucked out. I think it had more to do with the teacher’s dedication. I understand that after he retired the program floundered.

      2. Candi*

        We did FBLA, but DECA was right across the hall and ran the student store.

        A good 2/3 of the FBLA advice still holds true. Most of what doesn’t involves applications, resumes, and cover letters. (And the move to business casual in a lot of environments.)

    2. SebbyGrrl*

      Our high school also had classes on a business or workplace path and we were taught these things as well.

      I guess that’s why this has been such a challenge for me in my work life.

      I expect this is basic knowledge anyone who ‘goes to work’ should have.

  8. Aunt Margie at Work*

    Wakeen’s Tea Room
    our motto is:
    Let’s burn the crops and salt the earth.
    All true members of the commentariat welcome.
    Secret password: LOON
    Half price chocolates on WTF Wednesday. Because, what the actual F, it’s chocolate and it’s Wednesday.

  9. The Other Dawn*

    It would seem to me that all of these things on the list are obvious. But apparently not to some people….yikes.

    The only one I have a gripe about is this one: You are expected to be on time for your work shift unless prior approval from your supervisor is granted. Prior approval does not mean “Hey, I am running late, be there soon.”

    One can’t always predict what will happen on the way to work or at home before we leave for work. I would say the fact that someone took the time to say something at all (many don’t!) would be enough to excuse them for being late. Things happen.

    1. AMPG*

      It sounds to me like it’s on the list because staff do this more than an occasional traffic snafu would warrant.

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      For some reason, things seem to happen much more frequently to some people than others. And those people are never the top performers.

      1. Newish Reader*

        And they tend to have no problem at all getting out the door at the end of the workday on time (or a bit early).

    3. Regina 2*

      That one stuck out to me too. I’m not sure if it differs between union vs. salaried, but as a salaried employee, I’d bristle at that sort of mandate. If the position is public-facing or one where punctuality is essential to the job, then I completely agree. But if it isn’t, I don’t feel I need to be held to that standard, especially as a salaried employee where I’m consistently expected to work more than 45 hours a week, and be accessible on weekends and evenings. I don’t particularly think this is fair, but I get it’s the way things work — at the very least, I should be honored the flexibility of being late in the morning, especially if I had to work later the previous day.

      However, I think this particular case is a different issue, and it sounds like the office has a lot of problems, so the inclusion of this was likely warranted.

      1. Myrin*

        I don’t know if this is what you meant with your last sentence but in the original letter, OP talks about Fergus – the original problem child – being rude to the public in a way that made it sound like this (talking to the public) is actually a regular occurrence for his job. Additionally – this might be very different compared to the US, though – at least in my country, everyone who works in “local government agencies” is public-facing to some degree.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I hear you, but as someone who is salaried and often works with hourly folks, sometimes it’s important to keep standard hours for team coordination reasons (not just public-facing reasons) and sometimes for the appearance of fairness. Oftentimes salaried folks have to work non-standard hours, but in other cases, it can make sense to have some regularity for in-office time. While peers usually shouldn’t be nosy about another person’s hours, sometimes tensions and misunderstandings regarding someone putting in enough time decrease significantly when hourly folks are aware that salaried folks are also working “regular” days.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Transparency. I hope in the future transparency is more important than it is now.
          People appear who come and go as they please really can pull morale down and in turn impact the overall work effort. One could argue that it shouldn’t because people should mind their own business, but the fact remains that people do notice when others are not around, admonishing them not to notice works moderately, if at all. It just human nature to notice these things.

    4. Turanga Leela*

      This is really dependent on context. If I supervised an otherwise reliable employee who very occasionally (once a month or less) had something come up, I’d be fine. I’d be even more flexible if the person’s job allowed for it. But if the person is in a customer-facing role or something else where it’s really important to be there on time, then part of the job is building in time for regular delays.

      Here’s my reasoning: once in a while, something happens that you can’t plan for. If the subway stops running, an accident shuts down every lane of the highway, or your babysitter doesn’t show up, it’s hard to get around that. But if someone is frequently late, that probably means he’s planning to get to work on time, and then there’s a 10-minute delay because of something ordinary—traffic, or forgetting something, or having to warm up the car, or the bus being late, or a ton of things that happen really frequently. If the person can build in an extra 10-15 minutes and plan to get to work early, that will fix the problem. (And I know that not everyone can do that, because sometimes there’s only one bus an hour, or there’s a tight window for day care drop-off, but then the supervisor and the employee need to figure out a solution for when the employee is going to be late.)

      1. Myrin*

        I agree. I live on hour away from the city my alma mater is in. There also is only one train an hour. University classes here start at quarter past. I could take one train that would make it so that, with everything going 100% percent as planned, I’d arrive in the classroom on time or a couple of minutes early. But there really wasn’t room for absolutely anything going wrong: the train had to be on time, the other train that crossed mine/we had to wait for at one station to keep going had to be on time, the underground I had to change to had to be on time, I had to race out of the station, the traffic lights in front of the uni needed to be perfect, the classroom couldn’t be in one of the buildings a bit farther from the station, etc.

        I could also take the train an hour earlier. That would allow me to get off at the main station (as opposed to the place where the underground drives by) an hour before the class started. I could walk leisurely to my uni, sit down at the park a bit, buy stuff that I needed, have a drink, or check out stuff at the library. Sure it “wasted” some time of my day but at least I could be totally relaxed when the train was 15 minutes late or we had to change to another one because of technical problems because I could be sure to still be on time. And the few times over the years it happened that there really was no way for me to get to uni at all – because someone had committed suicide and all tracks had to be closed off, so there was no way for me to get anywhere, or, once, remarkably, because there was a mudslide in my hometown that blocked off the one way to get out (the street and tracks are right next to each other and were both buried) – I had already had an established track record (ha!) of usually being reliable and punctual and it wasn’t a problem in any way.

        1. Deeply Anon*

          I hope to use your example as incentive to be punctual, or early.
          Sign me someone who is usually neither.

        2. Candi*

          As someone who can’t drive, this is my life.

          I can sometimes get rides, but it’s on their schedule, not mine.

          I am chronically early.

          Which was nice at the doctor’s last time. There was no one in the slot before me, so they got me in early. :)

      2. Collarbone High*

        When I was a manager, I was surprised by how many people didn’t think they needed to plan for contingencies, or take into account time-consuming things like looking for a parking space downtown or walking six blocks from the train station to the office. MapQuest said the drive would take 30 minutes, so they left their house at 8:30 and were consistently 15 minutes late. I had to tell quite a few adults that they needed to leave their house earlier, and some people really pushed back on that because they had the idea that those things should be coming out of the company’s time, not theirs.

      3. Marillenbaum*

        Unless you live in DC, in which case: “Sorry–Metro’s on fire” is a sadly reasonable regular text to receive. Luckily, my supervisor allows me to set my hours, so if I’m 15 minutes late, there’s no problem with me simply staying an extra 15 at the end of my day.

      4. cncx*

        this is exactly how i feel. if someone has a front-facing job then they need to budget snafus into their commute plans. it reminds me of a letter on here from a few years ago where the gist was “if google maps says your commute is 35 minutes but traffic means it takes an hour, then it takes an hour, and you need to budget an hour to get here”

        i had a job once where the receptionist liked to think she had flex hours when the reality is that being at work a fixed set of core hours is part of the job description in that kind of job.

    5. Epsilon Delta*

      I read that as targeting employees who are regularly late and/or do not recognize that it creates a problem at work.

    6. Lady Bug*

      Yes, please make sure you give some leeway on emergency and uncontrollable situations. I cannot control people’s desire to play bumper cars on the highway. Or the railroad’s failure to prepare for cold weather in New England. I am on time 99% of the time, but sometimes there are legitimate “I’m running late” situations.

      1. SarahKay*

        But I’ll bet when you make it in to work you look very slightly fraught, and your first words are “I’m so sorry I’m late, it was because of [sensible reason]”, and it’s an uncommon event. As opposed to strolling in ten minutes late with nothing more than a casual “Hi” every week or so, which is what OP is almost certainly referring to.

        1. Lady Bug*

          More like extremely annoyed and breaking rule #5a…..

          Its very hard to communicate actual exceptions in blanket rules, and I’m sure OP is looking at things like you describe, but I wanted to err on the side of caution. I’ve been in jobs where one bad employee’s behavior results in unnecessary rules for all employees and it just kills morale.

          1. SarahKay*

            Yes, fair point. And if it’s being left to the supervisors, then that sort of allowable exception should, for sure, be communicated to them.

      2. Jadelyn*

        I will never forget the time that, on my FIRST DAY AT A NEW JOB, there was a massive accident on the only freeway that went to that town from where I live. As in, a fuel tanker overturned and the freeway was completely closed. I was absolutely panicking, trying to find a back road to use (me and a few thousand of my best friends who were doing the same thing, which didn’t help), calling the office practically in tears because I knew I was going to be at least an hour late for my first day at work and I was utterly certain that I was going to get fired.

        Thankfully I wasn’t the only person at that office who got screwed over by that particular freeway closure, so they knew it was legit when about a dozen of us straggled in an hour and a half late that morning (plus the accident was all over on the news too). But that was a truly awful morning.

        1. anonderella*

          First day at a new job – and the day after having moved from a new city (in fact, I’d slept on a couch the night before bc I was squatting with my best friend until my transferred job kicked up enough money to get my own place again) – and I go out to my car and discover that someone has hit and run my car, tearing the entire bumper off and leaving it undrivable until I could get that fixed, as it was dangling by metal slaw from the back of my car, and I could not Hulk-out sufficiently to tear it off.
          Thanks, drunk guy. That was the second time my bumper had been ripped off, and I hadn’t even been in the vehicle either time. Life has been unkind to my bumpers.

        2. Ceiswyn*

          Ahaha, yes. Second week in a new job, the week my boss was visiting from the US, and there was a terrible accident on the dual carriageway a few minutes ahead of me, resulting in the air ambulance being called and a fatality. The police closed the road and had all the cars turn around and drive the wrong way back to the previous junction. I was three hours late to work, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

  10. Allison*

    Not sure how I feel about 2a. I’m a stickler for punctuality, hate being late and hate when others are late. For a job like yours where people are dealing with clients the second the office opens, I get why it’s important. However, stuff happens. Trains break, accidents happen, stuff comes up home making you leave late (like pets getting stuck in weird places), so if someone is late through no fault of their own and lets you know about it, can you really hold it against them? One can only give oneself so much “cushion time” in the morning.

    But if they’re late often, then yeah, I’d question their reliability.

    1. Myrin*

      From everything we’ve read of OP so far, she seems like a very reasonable person. I’m willing to bet that she would accept someone’s excuse of being late because they got involved in a traffic incident or something similar. As someone else already said upthread, this kind of rule, in my experience, generally pertains to people who are regularly late; it’s not usually about one-offs and also not about people who are otherwise stellar employees but happen to have a bad streak where they were late a couple of days in a row.

    2. Jeanne*

      Do you call your boss with details like bad accident on I95 or kid threw up for an hour or do you just casually say not gonna be on time today? I thimk that’s the difference OP is trying to make. It’s hard to put into a short statement.

      1. turquoisecow*

        That’s a good point. “I’m running late, sorry,” in a casual tone is very different from “I’m so sorry, but there was an accident on [highway]/my kid is sick/my car wouldn’t start.” It seems like the OP would be more understanding of the second than the first, and putting down a statement like the one in the manifesto would discourage the first from happening.

        Also, the sort of person who calls up casually and says “yeah, gonna be 5 minutes late” and doesn’t get too much feedback on it might be the sort of person who then figures it’s not a big deal to be 5 minutes late, so it happens more often, and then it moves to 10 minutes or 15, or not calling at all, and then it’s “Oh, Fergus? He never comes in time.” Slippery slope kind of thing.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The lack of expression of regret indicates the employee does not feel that tardiness is an issue. If a person is routinely late and routinely fails to show some sign of realizing they are late then that can be a problem.

          My boss does not care when I get to work. I still apologize for being a little late. Her lack of concern is a good response and my show of concern is a good response. She does not have to worry because she knows I do worry.

    3. Huh*

      That rule was clearly for people with a cavalier attitude towards punctuality. Of course everyone experiences occasional and unexpected delays – no reasonable manager would discipline good staff for a traffic jam due to an accident. However I have dealt with staff who emails 10 min before shift start time to say “hey my nose is runny so I’m not coming until this afternoon”.

    4. KAZ2Y5*

      Most places that are stickers for punctuality (in my experience) have a way to deal with it. Where I work (hospital) we go on a point system. You get 1/2 points if you are late for any reason and 1 point if you call in for any reason. If you reach 14 points you are fired. There are levels where you get an email warning and meetings with the boss. Also the points drop off after a year or otherwise we would all be in trouble!

      1. Jeanne*

        I was relieved to read that last part. Eventually they’d have no staff if the points didn’t reset. But punctuality matters for your job.

      2. Elemeno P.*

        I also had a point system when I was in a front line theme park position, and even that was flexible (and we were union). For example, being one hour late without calling in ahead of time counted as a no-call/no-show, which was 7 points and an immediate demotion from a leadership position. If you were regularly late, you got 7 points and that was the end of it. If you were always early and it was clearly a one-time mistake, those points disappeared.

  11. Anon E Mouse*

    As an employee who shows up on time, does my work with integrity, is polite around clients, and generally acts like a well-socialized adult with workplace common sense, I would appreciate a manager posting and discussing this list openly, if for no more reason than to reinforce that I’m doing the right thing and I work with crazy people.
    I would appreciate it more if the manager then followed through on the people who ignore the list…

    1. Is it Friday Yet?*

      Agreed. Now it’s all about the follow through. From what I can glean, previous management and/or rules have been pretty loosey goosey, so I wouldn’t be surprised if employees do no not immediately change and instead want to test how serious the OP is.

  12. ArtK*

    OP, I’m very glad that you’ve decided to address this. But.. please let go of the pendulum. It sounds like you were quite lax in the past and now you’ve swung the other way and hit everyone with a bunch of rules. It’s very likely that that’s not going to go down well, unless you presented it much more carefully than you did here.

    There’s nothing wrong with your list, but I started to bristle when I thought of my manager delivering that without a lot of context. The people who *are* following the rules are going to be offended and the ones who aren’t will ignore it. I’m very much against blanket reprimands (which is what that list really is) because of the possible collateral damage. It does give you something to point to when disciplining them, though.

    In general, if you have an impulse to scorch the earth, it’s a good idea to step back and wait until that feeling passes. It is necessary on occasion, but you need to be feeling very, very calm before taking that kind of action — I got the idea that you were mightily annoyed and that came through.

    1. Karanda Baywood*

      But there was context:
      “I followed the Fergus meeting up with a department-by-department discussion with all of our employees about what professionalism in a public agency means.”

      It sounds to me like there was rampant unprofessionalism throughout the agency and OP dealt with it by having discussions and posting rules. “You never told me I couldn’t” is now moot.

      1. ArtK*

        I understand that there was some context. I’m concerned, based on the tone of the letter and the tone of the list (someone else called out the use of “junior high”) that the LW swung too quickly and possibly too far in the opposite direction.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      If the group you are leading is a hot mess, then what OP did might just be the thing to do. If the group you are leading is fairly average with one or two clowns, then I would agree this is too much.

      We can guess by the examples given that there is not much that is going right in this group, most people are doing as they wish.

  13. turquoisecow*

    The only point on this manifesto that I could see my former coworkers pushing back on would be the personal phone usage, specifically the last point that states you must end your personal calls in order to answer work calls. There isn’t any specific mention of emergency type exceptions to this rule. A lot of my former coworkers had a lot of “emergencies.” As in, they’d be on their personal phone, and, when called on it, would say something to the effect of “Oh, but my daughter/grandmother/sister/uncle-in-law is sick and in the hospital” and that was why they hadn’t responded.

    If I were the supervisor in that case (which I never was), I would tell them to either take a few minutes of break to go and take the call outside – which I never would have wanted to take personal calls in hearing of my coworkers anyway – or take PTO to go deal with the issue on their own time. I don’t know how the OP could put that into a succinct point in the manifesto, though. I imagine that’s something the individual supervisors would need to manage on their own, more than the OP putting in writing.

    Also, is the OP giving the supervisors training on how to manage these Problem Employees? There’s a lot of “your supervisor will determine” in the manifesto, which in theory is good, but if the supervisors haven’t been managing the PEs in the past, is that because they haven’t gotten back up from OP’s predecessor, or are they lacking a lot of the common sense that the PEs seem to also be lacking? The culture might have damaged them as well.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Hopefully, OP will help supervisors set an overall guideline, but the guideline allows for exceptions such as family emergency, etc. This would give the supervisor the leeway for exceptions when an employee is having a hard time finding a caregiver for a family member or other “life” situations.

    2. DragoCucina*

      Most people that aren’t overusing their personal phones aren’t in the midst of an emergency. I have one person whose teen daughter has a very hard understanding that her mother cannot just answer her cell phone. If she calls more than once it needs to be a legitimate emergency. Wanting to leave school early because she’s board isn’t an emergency.

      When they have a legitimate issue they mention it in outline (I don’t ask for details) and they can carry their cell phone. I did when MIL was dying. My husband wasn’t allowed in his work environment (OR) so I was the contact. I always gave someone a heads up and stepped outside.

  14. animaniactoo*

    OP, just for future… do not reference “This is not junior high school” when discussing personality conflicts, gossip, etc. The moment you do, to some extent you’ve lost the whole game. You can’t reference any kind of school experience, not kindergarten, not junior high, not college. Because it’s so “Oh overblown drama making a big deal out of nothing” talk to the recipient the moment the reference happens. “But that’s not what *I* was doing!” “My problem was different!” “I’m an adult, I KNOW I’m not in Junior High tyvm.”

    Focus on and use the business terms “Professional” “Teammate” “Co-worker”. Focus on “appropriate report structure” “develop/discuss professional office strategies for conflict resolution” and so on. (i.e. We’re not going to tell you what you are acting like, but we are going to tell you what you’re not acting like….)

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Also, I know plenty of fine young people in high school and even middle school who are apparently much more responsible and diligent than most of the OP’s direct reports.

      (Basically another way of stating your argument, age != maturity.)

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      Thank you! This really frustrates me. I teach middle school and most of my kids are pretty great. The ones that aren’t? There is usually a grownup in their home that isn’t setting boundaries or an example.

      We can expect teenagers to be fumbling and make mistakes; grownups in the workplace should be held to their professional standards rather than adolescent standards. Stop referencing teenagers for adult behavior.

    3. Zombii*

      Counterpoint: most companies I’ve worked for where someone in management finally lost their sh!t and said “THIS IS NOT JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL!” in a meeting or email were the same companies where the employees would at least occasionally finish their gossipy stories about management with “This place is basically just junior high school.”

      It can be indicative of a much larger problem within the culture when management starts to openly deny it.

  15. animaniactoo*

    Re point 6: One of the biggest struggles I’ve had is explaining the difference between being friends and/or liking someone, and being polite and civil to them regardless of how you actually feel about them when the push is for people to be friends or “friendly”. No. They don’t have to be friends. Civility will work just fine.

    1. Jeanne*

      Bosses sometimes have issues with that too. I had one who thought being part of the team meant I would be friends with them. No. I can work with them and still not be friends.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I have framed it as a “willingness to work with everyone”.
      If I started telling people they had to like each other I would have gotten kicked many times.

      I think some bosses really struggle on how to frame this and for the lack of any other set of words they default to, “Let’s all just be friends.” Nope. Ain’t gonna happen, get over it and move on.

  16. So Very Anon for this*

    So am I the only f***er here who thinks that rule five is some serious f***ing bulls***? If one of my stupid f***ing bosses tried that s*** with me, I’d have to ask him to play a friendly game of hide and go f*** yourself, the stupid f***ing f***.

    Sigh … I’ve worked too long in the oilpatch.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It’s not super professional in a public-facing position to be swearing up a storm, and particularly not when it’s “really bad” curse words. There are a minority of jobs out there where this would be fine, but in most places, swearing every 2-5 words isn’t really ok.

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        I’ve worked in kitchens were cursing was normal. Servers would come in and blister the paint off the wall, BUT those words never reached the ears of the customers. Other kitchens, even a “damn” was considered out of line. Learning where and when to curse is a good skill to have.

    2. Jennifer's Dumb-A** Thneed*

      I think others did not see the humor in your remark, but I did.

      But yeah, this list is aimed WAY more at office workers than it is at blue-collar workers, or people who work outdoors.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I don’t think it’s that we didn’t see the humor. Speaking for myself, I got the joke but didn’t find it funny. (But I also have a very quirky sense of humor, so I don’t mean to offend/insult when saying it didn’t do it for me.)

    3. Cath in Canada*

      I had to seriously tone down my swearing when I moved from a Glasgow lab to a Vancouver lab. In the former, swearing like a sailor was so normal I didn’t even notice it; in the latter, let’s just say that I made quite the first impression…

  17. Huh*

    It’s frustrating to create rules around what should be common sense for adults in the workplace. Recently I had to update our company policy on similar issues. I wondered if it sounded condescending to most of our employees who already know, for example, you shouldn’t use the company phone to call China for 2 hours during working hours. Unfortunately you do have to spell it out for that minority percentage.

    An engineer I know noted roads are designed and built so that even the dumbest driver knows how to use them. I guess company policies are created for a similar reason.

    1. Jeanne*

      We had a guy sneaking into an empty lab to call Brazil. That didn’t go over well when he was caught.

    2. Cassie*

      I think one of the problems with “common sense” is that it’s deeply based on culture/society. When you have a group of people from varying cultures (whether it’s different countries, or just different areas of town), you’re going to have different norms. And it’s up to the company to set what is the “norm” for this workplace.

      I would love it if we had a list like this in our workplace, because it sets the expected behaviors. My 5th grade teacher had a saying about it being easier/better to have rules and be able to relax them, than to not have rules and try to enforce them later. I wish I could remember what the saying was…

      The sad thing though is that the offenders would probably not even recognize that they are not meeting these expectations.

  18. Mt*

    I think having the rules spelled out are great, the only issue is that there are too many that are at the discretion of the supervisor. This will be hard to stay consistant on

    1. Aunt Margie at Work*

      That’s a really interesting point that leads me to see an upside. This message is instructions for staff, but a challenge to managers. LW is also making managers more responsible for managing.
      The systemic problems found are from non-intervention at the management level. Now they not only have to manage, but have to manage everyone equally. Slackers/whiners/bullies won’t get their own way just because the manager doesn’t want to deal with them; the manager says no and can point to the list. Strong workers can get flexibility, because they are worth it.

    2. Huh*

      The difficulty is in many of these cases you cannot quantify a precise cut off point for acceptable vs not acceptable behaviour. A one off 15 minute personal call may be accepted if someone needs to organise emergency plumbing. If they’re calling their girlfriend to organise what movie they’re seeing, or is generally unreliable, take personal calls when a customer is there etc – this is problematic. So ultimately you need the manager to judge the behaviour against broader context.

    3. Observer*

      There doesn’t need to be 100% consistency. There needs to be a clear understanding that you can’t do whatever you want, and that you cannot argue with your supervisor over every stupid thing.

  19. ilikeaskamanager*

    When someone starts the “Well you never told me XXXX, ” I want to say, ” Well I never told you to eat or breathe either but you seem to have figured that out on your own.”

    Honestly there is no way to put absolutely everything down on paper. People have to bring some basic common sense into the job with them.

  20. Dr. Doll*

    My problem team member who is very frequently late and I had A Talk about timeliness plans for 2017 (I wanted actual plans, not just I’ll-do-better, which had been the outcome of a talk a few weeks ago). The person asked to shift hours just a tad earlier than RBH so that parking and traffic would not be such a problem. I said we’d try it for a few weeks, and then re-evalulate. I am waiting with interest to see what will happen the first day we are back at the university, when *I* am in the office at __:00 a.m. and waiting for the team member to arrive at __:30 as planned. Honestly, I really hope this does work, it would soothe a major irritant in my life.

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      I had a boss at my previous employer offer to shift my hours officially to start and end half an hour later. I was amazed that this was even an option, and was much happier and more punctual once I didn’t have to pry my eyes open and race for the bus and hope I made the train for my hour commute, because I could wake up about the same time (or even hit the snooze button), get ready, and catch whichever bus came next without fretting.

  21. Rachel B*

    I particularly enjoyed “Gossip will not be tolerated” and “This is not junior high.”
    Good luck! (Sincerely, not sarcastically).

  22. Fafaflunkie*

    OP’s boss would certainly qualify as a Worst Boss of the Year candidate…

    …if this were any year other than 2016.

    1. Fafaflunkie*

      Error… I’m in the wrong post. I was jumping back and forth between this one and the one earlier today with the boss making her subordinate her personal assistant in spite of said subordinate’s role not including “drive me to the building next door.”

  23. Milton Waddams*

    The people who are looking at porn at work should be viewed in the same boat as the people getting drunk at work; they have a problem that won’t be solved by just telling them not to do it. To treat it as anything else is to turn your work into that Drew Carey skit where he spits out his cheeseburger in mock surprise when someone says, “Don’t you know that stuff is bad for you?”

    Online shopping, reading e-books, chatting on the phone, etc. at work is likely related to your requirement that they be in their seats precisely when the clock starts, regardless of whether or not the work that needs to be done is available to be done; you are essentially telling them that they are being paid to stare at their desks, rather than taking the harder steps of clearing up bottlenecks in the workflow to make sure that the work is available when the employees are available, rather than it becoming a scene from a situation comedy whenever a client rings. You’ll get a far greater boost to productivity and morale by clearing up those bottlenecks than you’ll get by reminding your employees that you consider wasting their time to be acceptable.

  24. PJB*

    I think this list makes sense, and BTW I don’t think inappropriate behavior is limited to government employees (I have worked in both public and private organizations) or to union employees (not mentioned but heck that’s a HUGE part of why so many government managers are afraid to deal with performance problems!). It’s a good starting point. And now…I suggest that all follow-up conversations about any of these issues take place with individual supervisors and their employees. Too often, managers attempt to address individual performance issues in group settings. The employees at fault seldom see themselves as the problem and those who are good workers feel resentful that they’re included in the conversation. In this case if this many behaviors were rampant, it was good for all to hear so everyone is now working from the same expectations. But follow up and follow through must be done on an individual basis. Good luck and congrats for addressing the problems!

  25. MissDisplaced*

    I find it kind of sad that you actually have to spell this stuff out for ADULTS working in a public sector job.
    But you rock for doing so!
    Be sure to give an update on how it goes.

  26. Elise*

    Good on the OP for trying to get their dept. back on track. I do agree with a few of the previous commenters that some of the wording could be improved in order for this not to be viewed as a tirade. I get that there are systemic issues, but some of the language could be more professional. 6C in particular seems a bit harshly worded, and who is going to decide what constitutes gossip? I have never worked in an office with zero gossip so I’m not sure how you can enforce this rule.

    Perhaps a note that there are open lines of communication, and to please ask for clarification rather than listening to or spreading rumors (and then follow through with open communication).

  27. Al*

    I used to work on the Oilrigs – the exploration ones in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea- not the big platforms so they were only a few of us. I could never understand the fascination with watching porn. There we were, 40 blokes, in the TV Room watching Porn, night after night after the main film had finished. As a graduate of 21 I was naturally curious having never seen it before. But a couple of watches were enough, after all. I suppose I might have been more worried if it had been gay porn with all those burly roughnecks around !

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