Governor Issues Executive Order to Amend State Workplace Policies

February 20, 2015

For Immediate Release: Friday, February 20, 2015
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage has issued an Executive Order prohibiting state workers from accessing pornographic and other sexually explicit material on government computers or devices.

“Employees of State agencies are compensated for their public service by Maine taxpayers and as Chief Executive I take employee workplace policies very seriously,” said Governor LePage. “State agencies already have rules to prohibit this behavior at work, but the practice continues. This Order establishes clear rules for all departments and employees across the board.”

All Executive Branch policies banning State employees from using State resources to access pornography will be amended to provide specifically that such misconduct will not be tolerated even when it is incidental in nature, or when it is committed off-duty, according to the Executive Order. It further clarifies policies will be amended to provide clear and unequivocal notice that such misconduct will constitute just cause for termination.

There is an exemption for State employees, such as investigators, required to access pornographic material within their official duties and there are procedures for employees who accidentally access inappropriate material.

The State will be taking all appropriate steps to implement the Governor’s policy directive. This includes formally posting a work rule, informing leadership of the bargaining units that represent employees, and communicating directly with employees.

“While it is exceedingly rare for state employees to access pornography during work hours or using state resources, the State of Maine takes all violations of this policy seriously,” said Joyce Oreskovich, director of the Bureau of Human Resources. “Misconduct such as this, while uncommon, is a violation of the public’s trust and could expose the State to sexual harassment complaints. Governor LePage’s Executive Order provides clear guidance to state employees that this conduct will not be tolerated.”

The Executive Order language is as follows and may be found on the Office of the Governor website http://www.maine.gov/governor/lepage/official_documents/index.shtml :

AN ORDER CLARIFYING STATE MANAGEMENT’S RESPONSE TO CERTAIN PROHIBITED MISCONDUCT

WHEREAS, state agencies provide services to the people of Maine and employ those interested in public service;

WHEREAS, the employees of state agencies are compensated for their public service by the taxpayers of the State of Maine;

WHEREAS, the taxpayers of the State of Maine have a right to expect these employees to spend their work time and to use State owned, leased, or controlled resources in the furtherance of the official business of the State;

WHEREAS, the taxpayers of the State of Maine have a right to expect that during work hours these employees will not act in such a way as to embarrass or discredit the State or the Maine taxpayers;

WHEREAS, unless required to do so in the performance of official duties, State employees using State-owned, leased, or controlled equipment or other resources to create, record, store, copy, transmit, distribute, image, modify, print, download, or display materials that are sexually explicit or pornographic in nature embarrasses and discredits the State and its taxpayers; and

WHEREAS, unless required to do so in the performance of official duties, State employees using State-owned, leased, or controlled equipment or other resources to create, record, store, copy, transmit, distribute, image, modify, print, download, or display materials that are sexually explicit or pornographic in nature is contrary to and inconsistent with furthering the official business of the State;

WHEREAS, the creation, recording, storing, copying, transmitting, distributing, imaging, modifying, printing, downloading, or displaying sexually explicit or pornographic material by State employees using State-owned, leased, or controlled resources constitutes misconduct for which disciplinary action is warranted;

WHEREAS, based on practices developed by previous administrations, there may be some confusion about the appropriate management response to such misconduct;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Paul R. LePage, Governor of the State of Maine, hereby order as follows:

  1. For purposes of this Executive Order, “accessing pornography” means creating, recording, storing, copying, transmitting, distributing, imaging, modifying, printing, downloading, or displaying sexually explicit or pornographic materials but excludes doing so in the performance of one’s official duties;

  2. For purposes of this Executive Order, “State resources” includes State-owned, State-leased, or State-controlled I.T. equipment or other resources;

  3. All Executive Branch policies prohibiting State employees from using State resources to access pornography will be amended to provide specifically that such misconduct will not be tolerated even when it is incidental in nature, or when it is committed off-duty;

  4. All Executive Branch policies prohibiting State employees from using State resources to access pornography will be amended to provide clear and unequivocal notice that such misconduct will constitute just cause for termination;

  5. All Executive Branch agencies will take any additional managerial action deemed necessary to ensure that all Executive Branch employees receive adequate notice that using State resources to access pornography constitutes just cause for the termination of his/her employment from the Executive Branch.

The effective date of this Executive order is February 5, 2015.