New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com
Surf's up! Judge OKs Web crawls
BY JONATHAN LEMIRE
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Sunday, April 23rd, 2006
Breathe easy, city workers - a judge says you have the right to surf
the Web at work.
The ruling by Administrative Law Judge John Spooner deemed that
on-the-job Internet use is equivalent to reading a newspaper or talking
on the phone - which flies in the face of Mayor Bloomberg's quick
firing of an Albany clerk playing solitaire this year.
"If using the Internet doesn't interfere with work, then this is a very
reasonable ruling," said lawyer Martin Druyan, who is representing the
Department of Education employee whose case Spooner handled.
That employee - Toquir Choudhri, a 14-year veteran at the DOE - was
brought up on charges by his supervisors for browsing the Internet
while at work, Druyan said.
Choudhri's bosses checked his computer over two days and discovered he
had viewed several news and travel sites, but Spooner gave him the
lightest possible punishment, a mere reprimand.
"It was very fair," said Druyan. "The workload at that particular
office was such that there was downtime - all the people in the office
were going on the Web now and then when the phones weren't ringing."
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein will now decide the severity of
Choudhri's punishment, Druyan said.
"This is a longtime employee," Druyan said. "The punishment should fit
Druyan also said that the decision may strengthen the case of Edward
Greenwood, a clerk in the city's Albany lobbying office, who was
summarily fired by the mayor in February for having solitaire on his
"[The ruling] is not binding authority," he said. "But, if he was to go
to court to get his old job back, this could help his case."