Assume that an employer’s computer-use policy permits employees to use their company-owned laptops for personal emails and web searches, provided such use does not interfere with company business. Assume further that, when members of the company’s outside sales force have their laptops collected and replaced by newer models, the IT department, in the act of inspecting the old computers and sweeping their hard drives for redistribution to clerical workers, discovers Internet pornography on a salesman’s hard drive. If, as is the case with some corporations such as Wal-Mart, the company has a policy against pornography entering its premises, should the salesman be reported to human resources and disciplined? Suppose that some of the material appears to be “kiddy porn” that violates federal law.
Does this change your answer? If the salesman is fired, does he have the basis for a wrongful discharge action? If he is prosecuted for possessing “kiddy porn,” does he have a viable Fourth/Fourteenth Amendment search-and-seizure defense?