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Thread: Man fired for looking at gun web sites

  1. #1
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    http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/10...y5373168.shtml


    It's not unusual for employees to be fired for browsing pornographic Web sites at work. But a Pennsylvania gun owner named Tony Jackson may have been the first person ever fired for looking at Web sites featuring gun parts.

    Jackson worked at a Lotus Notes administrator at Planco, a subsidiary of Hartford, Conn.-based insurance company The Hartford. He's a firearms instructor and self-described Second Amendment advocate who, while at work in May 2007, visited Web sites including shotgun maker Mossberg and Impact Guns's online store because he and his wife were planning on going skeet shooting and she needed a replacement part for her shotgun.

    When Jackson was searching the Web for a replacement shotgun stock, supervisor Christie Vazquez -- who admitted in a subsequent deposition to being "very anti-gun" and had quarreled with him before about politics -- noticed what he was doing. Vazquez said she was scared because it was only a few weeks after the Virginia Tech massacre (see CBS News video), so she promptly reported her colleague's Web browsing to Planco's human resources department. Vazquez also informed the HR department that Jackson owned guns and was a member of the National Rifle Association.

    You can guess what happened next: according to court documents, the HR representative, Jamie Davis, replied that reporting the visits to Mossberg.com and other sites was "the right thing" to do, and ordered the information technology department to investigate Jackson's Internet activity. After receiving a list of Web sites visited, Davis recommended that Jackson be placed on leave, which the company authorized. Planco disabled Jackson's front door and computer access and arranged for undercover police to be at the building the next morning.

    (A side note: Jackson suffered a heart attack and stroke in January 2006, and was on medical leave for three months as a result. Later that year, his annual review from Vazquez said he worked hard but did not meet expectations, a conclusion that Jackson believes arose from discrimination relating to his decision to take medical leave. In fact, just a few weeks before the gun-Web-site incident, Jackson told HR he believed the unflattering review was a response to his medical condition.)

    There is no evidence that Jackson was a violent person, and Davis later acknowledged that the list of Web sites were shopping sites that didn't have any violent pictures or anything that alarmed her. Nevertheless, Vazquez and another supervisor claimed they were concerned for their safety, and Planco fired Jackson six days later.

    In October 2008, Jackson filed a lawsuit against Planco in federal district court in Philadelphia alleging that the gun-Web-site issue was a transparent pretext to fire him because of his medical condition.

    The lawsuit, filed by Exton, Penn. attorney Mark Scheffer, noted that Jackson and supervisor Vazquez had -- at least at one point -- enjoyed a friendly relationship. Jackson, who has a legal concealed carry permit in Pennsylvania, accompanied Vazquez when she was hunting for apartments in dodgy areas of Philadelphia. He gave her a tour of the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he used to work, and took Vazquez to a shooting range and showed her how to use a gun. (She confirmed in a later deposition (PDF) that she enjoyed the outing.) Another employee who worked in the same department said he heard Vazquez ask Jackson about purchasing a handgun for protection.

    Planco's response to the lawsuit, outlined in a 31-page legal brief (PDF), is simple: it had "legitimate concerns about employee safety" because "Jackson, an admitted gun enthusiast who owns a sizable gun collection, including an Uzi," was browsing gun-related Web sites. Planco said its managers decided to fire Jackson, who has "an apparent fascination with guns," rather than "risk the potential safety of other Planco employees."

    (On the other hand, why would Planco's supervisors, all of whom knew that Jackson was a gun aficionado, suddenly be alarmed merely because they noticed he was shopping for replacement gun parts? Especially when one went shooting with him outside of work hours and enjoyed it?)

    Planco also argued that Jackson violated the company's Internet policy (PDF), which would normally block access to gun-related Web sites through filtering software, by visiting them when the filter was down for maintenance. The policy broadly prohibits accessing "offensive" or "inappropriate" material, but doesn't mention gun sites; Jackson says the policy didn't apply to sites like Mossberg.com, and notes that plenty visits by other employees to non-work related Web sites went unpunished.

    On September 29, U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell agreed with Planco and granted the company summary judgement, saying there wasn't enough evidence that Jackson suffered unlawful discrimination. "Jackson has not met his burden of showing that a discriminatory reason more likely motivated Planco," Dalzell wrote.

    On Wednesday, I sent this note to Tim Benedict, the director of media relations at Planco's parent company, The Hartford:

    Planco's policy says employees may not visit "inappropriate" web sites, but does not explicitly list gun sites as off-limits. Nevertheless, Jackon's at-work web browsing (he was shopping for firearms, apparently) alarmed co-workers and prompted him to be fired in May 2007. So I guess my questions to you are these: Does Planco/The Hartford believe employees should be fired if they visit gun sites at work? How about other time-wasting sites not relevant to work, like ESPN.com or Facebook?


    Benedict replied on Thursday afternoon, pointing me to Planco's legal briefs and saying "I can't comment beyond that." If any readers know more about Planco's and The Hartford's Internet policies, I'd love to hear about it.

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    I would think this would warrant a discrimination suit unless they also terminate others that visited normally blocked sites during that same time period.
    Chuck Norris/Ted Nugent That's the ticket for 2016!

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    Regular Member Flintlock's Avatar
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    ethernetweb wrote:
    When Jackson was searching the Web for a replacement shotgun stock, supervisor Christie Vazquez -- who admitted in a subsequent deposition to being "very anti-gun" and had quarreled with him before about politics -- noticed what he was doing. Vazquez said she was scared because it was only a few weeks after the Virginia Tech massacre (see CBS News video), so she promptly reported her colleague's Web browsing to Planco's human resources department. Vazquez also informed the HR department that Jackson owned guns and was a member of the National Rifle Association.
    WTF does any of the words I have in bold have anything to do with anything? Typical emotional basket case of a supervisor that has no business being in a decision making position.


    You can guess what happened next: according to court documents, the HR representative, Jamie Davis, replied that reporting the visits to Mossberg.com and other sites was "the right thing" to do, and ordered the information technology department to investigate Jackson's Internet activity. After receiving a list of Web sites visited, Davis recommended that Jackson be placed on leave, which the company authorized.
    Why was it the "right thing to do?" Most employees in this country would probably be fired if their employers knew about all of their web browsing, regardless if it was gun related or not.




    Planco disabled Jackson's front door and computer access and arranged for undercover police to be at the building the next morning.
    Are you freaking kidding me?


    The lawsuit, filed by Exton, Penn. attorney Mark Scheffer, noted that Jackson and supervisor Vazquez had -- at least at one point -- enjoyed a friendly relationship. Jackson, who has a legal concealed carry permit in Pennsylvania, accompanied Vazquez when she was hunting for apartments in dodgy areas of Philadelphia. He gave her a tour of the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he used to work, and took Vazquez to a shooting range and showed her how to use a gun. (She confirmed in a later deposition (PDF) that she enjoyed the outing.) Another employee who worked in the same department said he heard Vazquez ask Jackson about purchasing a handgun for protection.
    What hipocrisy. I hope she is proud of herself for getting someone fired that has some medical problems to pay for.


    Planco's response to the lawsuit, outlined in a 31-page legal brief (PDF), is simple: it had "legitimate concerns about employee safety" because "Jackson, an admitted gun enthusiast who owns a sizable gun collection, including an Uzi," was browsing gun-related Web sites. Planco said its managers decided to fire Jackson, who has "an apparent fascination with guns," rather than "risk the potential safety of other Planco employees."
    How do they know the details of his gun collection and what does it matter anyway? It is irrelevant to the discriminationissue at hand.


    (On the other hand, why would Planco's supervisors, all of whom knew that Jackson was a gun aficionado, suddenly be alarmed merely because they noticed he was shopping for replacement gun parts? Especially when one went shooting with him outside of work hours and enjoyed it?)
    Hence the total hipocrisy.





    Planco also argued that Jackson violated the company's Internet policy (PDF), which would normally block access to gun-related Web sites through filtering software, by visiting them when the filter was down for maintenance. The policy broadly prohibits accessing "offensive" or "inappropriate" material, but doesn't mention gun sites; Jackson says the policy didn't apply to sites like Mossberg.com, and notes that plenty visits by other employees to non-work related Web sites went unpunished.


    Why are gun related sites inappropriate or offensive? More hipocrisy in not firing any others for their web browsing.



    So I guess my questions to you are these: Does Planco/The Hartford believe employees should be fired if they visit gun sites at work? How about other time-wasting sites not relevant to work, like ESPN.com or Facebook?

    Exactly.



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  4. #4
    Regular Member Alexcabbie's Avatar
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    Here in very pro-gun Virginia he still wouldn't have a leg to stand on because any contribution to the problem (negligence) is a complete bar to recovery. In this case he neglected to follow company policy by using company computers on company time for personal business. In other words, in Virginia if any of your injury is your fault, then it is all your fault.

    It would be different if he had said "I'm gun' (going) to lunch now" and the super had run out shreiking "OH GOD HE SAID GUN CALL THE POLICE!!" (which it sounds like she might have had that been the case.) But unless he was on break (and allowed to use the office computer for such things) he was effing off on company time.

    The only thing I can see for him is was this his first offense and is he being treated more harshly than stated company policy allows. And calling the cops for looking up a firearms supplier is more than a bit over the top. Who would this ninny super called if he had been on break and polishing a holster in the breakroom? The Marines?

    I agree that this is ridiculous squared, however. And it is symptomatic of how we seem to have lost our collective mind here in the USA. Last year one of my customers related how her son had called another boy (they were in Kindergarten) a "raccoon" for pilfering his backpack. What the tyke meant, of course, is that raccoons rummage through stuff where they don't belong. Unfortunately the OTHER boy was African-Am.....OH THE HELL was black; and even though the other boy took no racial meaning, the teacher did, and hauled my customer's boy to the principals office where a very big deal was made of it indeed. This meant both parents were called, both boys talked to by "counsellors" and by the time it was over; my customer and the other kid's parents were enemies, the other boy thought the white kid was a monster, and the white kid was totally bewildered and my customer was at a loss as to what to tell him. Two families now enemies, two innocent five year olds who were friends set at each other and probably scarred for a long time, maybe for life; over a completely innocent - at least of racial insult - remark. And in the name of "racial harmony" and "political correctness".

    Goes hand in glove with five people dead in a restaurant because "guns are bad" and nobody could defend themselves. Although he helped bring this calamity on himself, I certainly hope that the extremity of the reaction is enough in the jurisdiction he is filing in to give him a course of action. This super in any case has buried the needle on the stupidometer.

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    Regular Member compmanio365's Avatar
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    Not surprising unfortunately. I've had a few talks here at work with my supervisor over my pro-gun stance and of course, you hear the, "Well, I'm actually very pro gun, I own guns, but...cause it scares people you could hurt your standing here".....it's like, don't patronize me, and I don't think you're pro gun at all if you've been convinced by the anti mentality prevalent in this country today to hide your rights and be shamed by them out of fear of being held back in your career. It's just another form of extortion and another angle to vilify guns and gun owners in our society.

    "Hide in the closet, fellow gun owners, your career may depend on it"......not bloody likely.

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