After years of water cooler whispering (with raised eyebrows) and urban legends of terminated employees, savvy Internet users know not to have any realistic expectation of privacy when it comes to work-hosted email, Internet access and the like.
Is there now cause for concern when it comes to discussing work-related topics on employees’ own time on personally owned computers? The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey is taking up the case right now.
In Pietrylo v. Hillstone Restaurant Group, Docket No. 2:06-cv-05754 (D.N.J. 2008), the plaintiffs allege that their use of MySpace is protected from their employer’s prying eyes. The plaintiffs, Brian Pietrylo and Doreen Marino were terminated by Hillstone, which operates the Houston’s chain of restaurants.
Pietrylo, a bartender at Houston’s in Hackensack, New Jersey, created the MySpace user group “Spec-Tator” for the purpose of current and former employees to “vent” about their experience while working at the restaurant. Allegedly, the user group was created on personal time, and invitations were distributed on personal time. According to Pietrylo, the forum was a "nice place to vent … without any eyes outside spying on us."
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