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14 fired as porn goes viral at DVLA

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Up to 115 employees at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) have been disciplined over the sending of pornographic emails. The government body has dismissed 14 of those people.

"Following an investigation, DVLA has dismissed 14 members of staff for gross misconduct," a statement from the Swansea-based organisation said.

"The staff concerned were found to have used the agency's electronic systems to send pornographic email attachments out of the agency, in direct contravention of DVLA's code of conduct," it said.

A further 101 workers at the office were disciplined but not sacked.

"The reason that some people were dismissed and some only reprimanded was because of the images themselves. All of the staff had sent images externally, but it was the nature of the images they sent that influenced the penalties that were applied."

The staff who received a formal reprimand have been banned from promotion for two years, said the DVLA.

Local press also reports that the problem had at one point become so acute that the email system itself slowed down.

It is the second time the DVLA has been hit by such controversy. A woman was dismissed last year for sending a sexually explicit video clip involving herself via her mobile phone.

Controlling employee use of facilities is becoming an increasing problem for employers. "The sending of pornographic materials by email and the misuse of internet and email facilities in general have been problems for many employers for a number of years," said Ben Doherty, an employment lawyer with Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW. "Due to the potential consequences of being seen to tolerate or encourage such behaviour most employers take a hard line approach."

The best way to ensure that consistent remedies can be taken is to make an explicit policy, said Doherty. "Employers who provide internet and email facilities to their employees should have written policies clearly setting out what is appropriate use of those facilities and highlighting the consequences of inappropriate use," he said.

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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