Work E-Mail Stirs Controversy

By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
By: Meaghan M. Norman Email

Last week executive director of the Michigan Education Association, Luigi Battaglieri sent a mass e-mail, to about 200 MEA coworkers which some have said is unprofessional. The e-mail contained pictures from a calendar that some viewed as offensive.

"It's not quite nudity, not quite related to work, not quite private," said Adam Candeub, associate law professor at Michigan State University. Candeub was trying to figure out how to categorize the pictures in the e-mail and if they crossed the line.

"The problem is we don't have clear rules. A lot of companies aren't setting them so people don't know what to do," said Candeub.

The photos are all over the Internet and branded as a "Miss TSA Calendar" poking fun at the full body scanners at the airport. The pictures are X-ray images of a woman's body in suggestive poses. There are twelve images that got sent around the MEA and beyond. Candeub says since the emergence of the Internet, rules and regulations at the workplace have been blurred, whether it's a Facebook page or a forwarded e-mail.

"When you're in a private corporation using their facilities, whether it's telephone or computer, they get to set the rules," said Candeub. "Employers have to recognize the boundaries of communication in today's age are fluid. What is private, what is public, what is on your time, what is on your boss' time is changing," said Candeub.

The MEA would not talk with us on camera and would not comment any further than to say in an e-mailed written statement from spokesman Doug Pratt: "Within minutes of that internal message being sent, Mr. Battaglieri issued an apology to everyone who received it. He's sincerely sorry."

"Things that are unrelated to work and have the potential to offend, I think we understand what those things are," said Candeub. Not everyone does understand what is right and wrong, in work settings and otherwise. But Candeub says, people must make an effort even with the constantly changing rules.

"We exhaust ourselves trying to [keep up with advancing technology and rules] but in the end we only have our common sense to rely on," said Candeub.

While the calendar is advertised as a "TSA Calendar," the photos are not a product of the Transportation Security Administration. A Japanese tech company said the photos were taken back in June to promote computer monitors.

As far as the MEA, it's not know if the e-mail was a violation of the company's policy.


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