No Cell Phone Policy = The Potential for a Critical Catastrophe
“A Cell Phone Policy…Actually?”
FACT: Cell telephone litigation is without doubt one of the latest kinds of litigation to come up throughout the nation. Every time there’s an accident or harassment, pay dispute or different privateness breach involving a cellular phone, you possibly can guess a lawsuit is not far-off.
As a wi-fi administration advisor who has written quite a few insurance policies up to now, I’m at all times amazed when corporations inform me they do not have an energetic and up-to-date coverage. Some enterprise house owners discover the common lawyer’s value of $2,500 for a company cellular phone coverage a bit excessive for his or her finances. Others attempt to write one themselves, which could be a daunting and overwhelming process. Nonetheless others are merely unaware of how susceptible their enterprise is with out one.
Why do you have to create a coverage for each worker in your firm signal? Apart from the truth that we dwell in essentially the most contentious nation on earth, there are different areas you might want to defend your corporation as nicely.
Visitors and Security Legal guidelines
Employers who’ve staff drive firm automobiles for enterprise functions run a really excessive danger of legal responsibility if the worker is concerned in an accident whereas utilizing an organization cellular phone.
FACT: Employers might be held liable, whether or not the decision is private or enterprise, if constructed from an organization telephone.
FACT: Employer legal responsibility in instances involving a 3rd social gathering is predicated on a authorized precept often called vicarious legal responsibility. It stipulates that an employer is answerable for harm brought on by his worker if, on the time of the accident, that worker was utilizing an organization cell phone in the middle of his job.
FACT: Plaintiffs typically allege that their employer acted in direct negligence by encouraging or permitting staff to make use of cellular gadgets for enterprise functions with out correct insurance policies and coaching on these insurance policies.
FACT: It would not matter if the decision is throughout common workplace hours or not; What issues is that the decision is by some means work associated and the system they’re utilizing belongs to THEM! Employers might be held answerable for harm brought on by an worker appearing throughout the framework of his employment relationship. Employers can now be thought of negligent in the event that they fail to supply correct insurance policies and coaching.
– Not too long ago, within the state of Virginia, a gross sales rep coming residence from work spoke to a buyer on her cellular phone. She by accident hit and killed a younger lady. The lady’s household filed a $30 million lawsuit in opposition to the employer, alleging that the corporate negligently provided cell telephones to its staff with out offering an organization cellular phone coverage or security coverage. The household gained this lawsuit.
•In Arkansas, a jury discovered a lumber firm liable after one in all its staff hit one other automobile, critically injuring the passenger. At the time of the accident, the motive force was utilizing the cellular phone for a enterprise name. This specific case was settled for $16 million. They did not have a cellular phone coverage.
– Main funding agency Salomon Smith Barney paid a $500,000 settlement to the household of a motorcyclist who was killed by one in all his staff making a work-related name on his firm cellphone after hours. No coverage in place.
FACT: Employers might be held answerable for issues or accidents brought on by an worker’s use of cell telephones whereas driving when an organization supplies the telephones or when cellular phone use is a obligatory or beneficial possibility as a part of their job is.
FACT: IRS laws require that company-issued cell telephones and wi-fi information gadgets be used for enterprise functions solely; in any other case, the non-public use of those gadgets should be claimed as a taxable profit. Your firm may very well be penalized and audited for not following this rule. The IRS can declare that any undocumented use of a cellular phone by your corporation is non-public and may deal with month-to-month cellular phone costs as wages, even when the calls had been for enterprise functions.
FACT: The IRS and state auditors have develop into very aggressive of their necessities concerning using private cell telephones within the office. Firms are audited extra steadily and pay extreme penalties and fines within the occasion of non-compliance. You want a coverage that not solely guides firm staff on cellular phone use, but in addition protects your organization from these audits. When you’ve got insurance policies in place that your staff have signed off on, you’re defending your corporation.
– A firm was audited by the IRS for cellular phone compliance and fined over $19,000 for not having clear sufficient insurance policies for workers making private cellular phone calls on their firm telephones and enterprise calls on their private telephones.
Federal and state labor and wage legal guidelines
FACT: Deducting the price of a wi-fi system from an worker’s final paycheck violates most state and federal wage legal guidelines. Federal and state legal guidelines restrict and prohibit employers from paying deductions for broken cellular gadgets or for failure to return company-issued cellphones or for damaging gadgets. In most states, for those who stole cash from an worker’s paycheck for a misplaced or broken telephone, you might be discovered responsible, and in case your coverage shouldn’t be worded accurately, you may be sued for treble damages.
FACT: The Truthful Labor Requirements Act requires staff who will not be exempted to be paid for all hours labored. For instance, if an worker checks enterprise e-mails from residence or takes calls from a buyer on his firm cellular phone, the time should be counted as hours labored.
surveillance and monitoring
Do you will have your worker’s consent to trace the placement of your organization’s cellular gadgets? Without consent, you stroll a high-quality line with regards to privateness rights. You want a really clear and particular coverage on tips on how to observe your cell telephones so you do not violate anybody’s privateness.
– A Florida roofing firm was sued by an worker after he discovered that his firm telephone was nonetheless being tracked after hours with out his data. He had visited a buddy at a drug rehabilitation middle the night time earlier than and the following day his employer questioned him about his personal drug use. This was seen as an invasion of privateness as the corporate had no coverage informing the worker that his cellphone may very well be tracked at any time. The worker was awarded $500,000 in a civil lawsuit.
FACT: Employers are actually going through an rising variety of complaints from staff about well being issues allegedly associated to cellular phone use. That is occurring despite the fact that the science appears inconclusive and contradictory. Employees who use cellphones at work have now begun to file claims for damages and lawsuits based mostly on the idea that radiofrequency radiation from cellphones can result in varied types of mind tumors or different illnesses.
Employers ought to defend themselves with a coverage that informs staff of the potential well being dangers related to utilizing a cellular phone and even suggests or requires using a hands-free equipment. The coverage ought to state that staff won’t maintain their employer answerable for any suspected well being points which will come up from using a company-issued cellular system.
Involved about privateness? Do you will have a coverage addressing cellular phone abuse at your organization? Is it about confidentiality, safety, privateness and harassment? Involved about privileged or confidential materials equivalent to commerce secrets and techniques or details about your clients? Do you will have a coverage that features a provision for digital camera telephones that pose an rising danger to companies? Mental property, commerce secrets and techniques, private buyer info or different confidential information might be simply captured and used with a digital camera telephone.
FACT: Staff can have their image taken in non-public areas and sue your organization for invasion of privateness or harassment. Do your staff have cell telephones with cameras and video capabilities or sensible telephones with scanners? Do you will have a coverage overlaying possession of photos captured utilizing cellular gadgets your organization points? Do your staff have broadband or web playing cards? Do you will have a coverage that prohibits your staff from plugging their private telephones into USB ports on their computer systems?
– An worker at a Delaware firm determined it may be humorous to prank a colleague and take an image of him relieving himself at a urinal. He snapped the photograph on his firm cellular phone and shared it with others within the workplace. When it bought a number of laughs, he posted it on-line. The corporate is out of enterprise at the moment after shedding a $1.4 million negligence lawsuit. The worker stated there is no such thing as a written coverage on cellular phone misconduct within the office. The decide had no different alternative.
Are you able to afford to not have a coverage?
The reply is not any. You’ll be able to’t afford the danger!
FACT: Making a coverage for your corporation is a small value to pay for a doc that might probably save your corporation from an costly lawsuit. It truly is a small value to pay for such a robust protection do you have to want it. So why depart your corporation in a susceptible state by not having one?
Would not you relatively have a signed doc in hand when an worker decides to sue you? A signed doc stating he gave his consent to the very factor he is attempting to sue you for? Positive you’ll. Without a strong coverage in place… you are a sitting duck!