HR Strange But True!
January 10, 2008

While some employers' policies allow for a small amount of personal use of company equipment, an Iowa woman lost her job after her employer accused her of writing a romance novel on the company's computer and time.

The Des Moines Register reports that a woman was working at Sioux Automation in Sioux Center when her employer became suspicious because of how much time the company said she spent typing constantly at her computer. Her supervisor, curious as to what she was typing, had technicians inspect her computer, where they said they found pages of a story titled "Taylorville," a lusty romance documenting the escapades of a girl named Taylor.

The company fired her. When she filed a claim for unemployment benefits, the company challenged it.

Before an administrative law judge, the employee denied using the computer for personal reasons and claimed she was typing the story as a way to improve important work-related skills during downtime.

"I didn't feel it was personal, because if somebody else read it, that's fine," the employee testified. "I guess I wasn't concerned if somebody else saw it. It wasn't personal to me."

"I was writing, but it wasn't necessarily a book," she testified. "I was just typing my thoughts down, trying to keep my brain moving. I wanted to improve my typing skills."

The newspaper reports that the judge denied her claim for unemployment benefits and the ruled that: "Her misuse of the computer for personal typing rather than completing her other tasks--or taking more care to ensure she had fewer errors--shows a willful or wanton disregard for the standard of behavior the employer has the right to expect from an employee."

She told the newspaper that she plans to complete and re-title the story in the hopes of getting it published. There's no word on whether she hopes Fabio will appear on the cover.

While she lost her unemployment benefits claim, the hearing did offer her one benefit: She was able to retrieve pieces of her work that she left behind because she was fired so abruptly, since the pages were submitted as evidence, the newspaper reports.

The newspaper has excerpts, if you are interested.

Source: Des Moines Register .

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