Judge: Don't Fire Web Surfing Worker

Posted on May 2, 2006

A NYC judge says the city cannot fire a Department of Education employee for surfing the Internet. CNET reports that the employee's attorney says the employee was being singled out in retaliation for discrimination charges.

Toquir Choudhri, a Department of Education employee of 14 years, was accused of ignoring supervisors who warned him to stop browsing the Internet while at work. An investigation found evidence that Choudhri had browsed news and travel Web sites from his work computer.

"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," he said.

"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."

Choudhri was not fired, but Spooner reprimanded him in a letter that will go into Choudhri's employee file.

The judge's decision sounds reasonable. He said, "agencies should apply the same standard to personal Internet use as they do to other personal activities. He noted that many agencies allow employees to take personal calls, or even read the newspaper, as long as those activities do not interfere with a worker's overall performance."

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