Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Is it illegal to disobey your employer?

I am not a lawyer, but it sounds like there is serious legal disagreement over whether it is a federal crime for an employee to use his work computer in a way that violates the employer's policies. If this goes in the wrong direction, it could be a cornerstone for totalitarianism by employment contract.

I am absolutely fine with violation of policies being grounds for termination of employment and even liability for damages, but making it criminal is just creepy. These fraud laws are ripe for abuse, as illustrated by the prosecution of Ferrell and Kurtz. We cannot count on the restraint of prosecutors ensure that these laws are applied reasonably -- a prosecutor can hound a sick old man and and widower for years without cause, and the scumbag will still get promoted. The corporations already own Congress; they don't need to have prosecutors at their beck and call.

1 comment:

anagory said...

There is no such thing as non-totalitarian employment contract. The power to fire is a political form of power. Unfortunately it is not recognized as such by our system of what passes for checks and balances. Flawed as the criminal justice system is, at least there is due process, while with termination of workers there is not. If we're talking about single changes within the system, in which there's such a thing as unemployment insurance, and in which it makes a difference whether a worker is laid off because of failure of the market to achieve full employment, or fired "with cause," I'd rather see demonstration (under a burden of proof) that the employer is a victim of a crime as a precondition for branding a worker with "fired with cause" status. Absent such a due process, the question of whether employer policy has the force of law is moot. In de facto terms, being fired hurts a person at least as much as a very large fine. Whether it hurts a person as much as a short prison term is debatable.

Now if we're talking post-revolution or what have you, that's a different story. Being anarchists we don't believe in the criminal justice system. As you point out, we don't need business having prosecutors at their beck and call. But anarchy as I understand it also requires abolition of the dominance/submission behavior called employment, by supplanting business with bottom-up and cooperative forms of organization.