Web surfing not grounds for firing in NYC

Planning on firing employees or even disciplining them for surfing the Web? A New York City judge says you need to show that the surfing actually got in the way of work.

Planning on firing employees or even disciplining them for surfing the Web? A New York City judge says you need to show that the surfing actually got in the way of work, News.com reports.

Toquir Choudhri, a NYC Department of Education employee of 14 years, committed the sin of reading news and travel sites while at work. He received a formal letter of reprimand. But Judge John Spooner, a judge in the City's Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, ruled that supervisors have to apply the same standard to browsing that they would to other downtime activities like taking personal calls or reading the newspaper: if those activities are allowed during down times, the same rule must apply for Web surfing.

"Look, at 4 in the morning, or because of the nature of the department, some city agencies have downtime. Surfing on the Internet--everybody does it," Martin Druyan, the union attorney representing Choudhri, told CNET News. "Choudhri was singled out in retaliation for discrimination charges that he filed against the Department of Education.

"The judge ruled in our favor because they could not prove that work was backed up, or that phone calls went unanswered," Druyan added. "We don't advocate goofing off. The public should be served. But if there's not work, it's not his fault."

The decision may force a review of the case of an employee fired by Mayor Michael Bloomberg when he saw a game of solitaire on the employee's screen.

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