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166-2-31092 to 31096 (2003 PSSRB 3)
Briar et al. v. Treasury Board (Solicitor General Canada – Correction Service)
Before: C. Taylor
Appearances: D. Feist, for the Grievors; R. Fader, for the Employer
Decision rendered: January 20, 2003
Financial penalty – Inappropriate use of electronic network – Pornography – Correctional officers – Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – one of the five grievances was settled – following the receipt of a complaint to the effect that an employee at Kent Institution was using his e-mail account to display offensive images, the employer conducted an investigation into the use of the electronic network by its employees – as a result of that investigation, 54 employees were disciplined for conduct deemed to be unacceptable with respect to the use of the e-mail system – the employer imposed a financial penalty on the four grievors in question for using the employer's electronic network to send and receive inappropriate material, including material of a sexual nature – the evidence established that the employer's policy prohibiting the use of its electronic network to transmit and receive such material had been communicated to the employees well in advance of the incidents in question and on more than one occasion – in addition, there was a notice to that effect which appeared on the computer screen whenever an employee logged on to the system – the adjudicator found that the grievors used the employer's electronic network to engage in activity which was in violation of the employer's policy and would tend to bring the employer into disrepute – the grievors used their e-mail accounts to send and receive material, the main focus of which was pornography, nudity and vulgarity – the images were demeaning to women, depicting them as sexual objects – even if the grievors had been unaware of the employer's policy, common sense must prevail – the grievors knew or ought to have known that the use of the employer's system for sexually explicit material was inappropriate – the grievors invoked section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and argued that the employer's action violated their right to privacy – the adjudicator found that there was no reasonable expectation of privacy in e-mail communications – furthermore, the type of activity engaged in by the grievors was not socially acceptable and was at odds with their positions as correctional officers – the penalties imposed upon the grievors were reasonable under the circumstances.
|Cases cited:||Canadian Airlines International Ltd and Canadian Airline Pilots Association (1988), 35 L.A.C. (3d) 66; Consumers Gas v. Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, (unreported), August 5, 1999; Robichaud v. Canada (Treasury Board),  2 S.C.R. 84; R v. M.R.M.,  3 S.C.R. 393; Smyth v. Pillsbury Co., 914 F. Supp. 97 (E.D. Pa. 1996); Re Iron Ore of Canada and U.S.W.A. Local 5795 (1975), 11 L.A.C. (2d) 16.|