Inappropriate Behaviour at Work can Affect Job Chances

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A reader’s question shows how important it is to maintain a professional manner and behaviour at all times at the workplace; not just when the boss is around. With today’s tracking of all computers through a network, remember that legitimate sites you visit might still carry viruses or inappropriate hidden links to unwanted sites. It is not appropriate to use a computer at a work environment for personal use.

Using A Contract Employer’s Computer for Personal Distraction

Q) Hello-

I’ve been working for, and applying for employment through, various temporary agencies in my area. A couple of months ago I was on an assignment for the ABC Agency which started out well, but ended when they let me go for lack of work. Two weeks later I learned from ABC that, in fact, they had let me go because they accused me of accessing “inappropriate” websites (i.e. with nudity, etc.) However, that was NOT true. It is true that during down time, when both my supervisors were out of the office and I had no specific instructions, I had accessed my email, some news sites, etc., but NEVER anything remotely inappropriate. I admit I may have used poor judgement in not finding something else to do, but I’m not foolish enough to go looking up porn at work.

I have two questions:

1. Should I bother calling in to this agency again, or are they not likely to send me out any more? I explained what happened at that assignment, and the recruiter seemed to accept my explanation (and apology) but I feel as though they’re unlikely to use me in the future.

2. Should I mention the incident described above and try to explain to potential future employers (i.e. agencies), or just put that behind me and work with the others? ABC Agency and the two jobs they sent me on (the first of which worked out beautifully all around) are not mentioned on my current resume. I have several other references who will vouch for my reliability, talent, punctuality, etc. I worry that all these agencies are somehow interconnected and that I’ll be blackballed by everyone.

How to Handle a Sensitive Issue

A) First of all, you’ve learned a valuable lesson here, how to handle a sensitive issue in the workplace. When you are working for any company, you are using their resources. Their computers are NOT your own, nor should you use them as if you were at home. All company computers nowadays have tracking, and this tracking is taken seriously. Even though you might not have visited an inappropriate site directly, many sites on the web are actually fronts for others to use that link to get to the site, or hope that you might inadvertently link on their site. Remember, so often now sites are paid by per click view – so many inappropriate sites tag themselves to legitimate sites to get that click.

Good Work References are Gold

Do NOT cut off contact with ABC agency. They were honest enough to explain what happened, and listen to your reply. So maintain in contact with them as much as possible. Do not take it as a sign of dismissal if you don’t get a contract through them for awhile. You may have to reprove yourself. But not calling them is almost a sign of admission. A good work reference is worth its weight in gold. Keeping in contact with ABC shows a level of professionalism, whether you accept another contract or are offered another contract through them.

And under no circumstances should you mention this incident to another agency, unless you are asked about it. If you are asked if there were any problems with a previous agency or contract, use your discretion at that time. Consider the matter over and move on from it.

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