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City employee fired after watching porn on the job for 39 hours over two weeks

Baltimore Sun Media Group
City worker fired for watching pornography on the job.

Baltimore City officials estimate the 39 hours an employee spent watching pornography on the job during a two-week period equated to about $1,166 in salary. They fired him in January after monitoring and documenting the employee's porn viewing.

The maintenance supervisor with the Department of Public Works — who city officials did not identify, citing personnel confidentiality — was bringing a pornography DVD to work and watching it at his computer, according to a report released last week by the Office of the Inspector General.

The employee was suspended without pay in September and fired January 20 after a termination appeal.

Inspector General Rob Pearre Jr. said the case, which came to light after an anonymous complaint to the Office of Information Technology, was unusual. He said the city has a policy against an employee using city time and equipment for non-city functions, regardless of the nature of what's being viewed.

"It would have been the same if he were watching sports on his computer for four out of eight hours a day," Pearre said.

The employee worked at the facilities division of the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant on Eastern Avenue. After the complaint was filed, monitoring software was installed on the employee's computer, and the amount of pornography was cataloged over an 82-hour work period, according to the inspector general's report.

The amount of time spent watching was recorded as 39 hours — nearly half of the employee's time on the job. On one particular day, viewing occurred for 6 hours and 46 minutes of an eight-hour day.

Additionally, the inspector general's report indicated the DVD was watched in "full-screen" mode, leading officials to believe "little to no work was being performed during the time that pornographic material was visible on the screen," according to the report.

Pearre said the city had not determined if they would attempt to recover the wages through litigation. He said officials don't know how long the employee had been watching porn on the computer as a regular practice, but "apparently, he was getting away with this for some time."

The report suggested, hypothetically, that over the course of a full year, the same rate of viewing would result in 951 hours over a 2,000-hour work year. Based on the employee's salary, that would equal about $28,400 worth of pay.

ccook@capgaznews.com

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