Librarian Sues Over Porn in Her Workplace

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The library's policy allows staff to end internet sessions if patrons are viewing graphic sexual images in sight of children or anything involving sex with minors or encourages others to break the law.

Supreme Court Ruled Internet Filters Are Legal

The library subscribes to a filtering service, according to its website. It can be turned off, however, at the request of any adult.

The library's policy states, "The library does not control or edit what is made available or filtered out by this service."

"The library strives to balance the rights of users to access these resources with the rights of people to work in a public environment free from disruptive sounds and offensive visuals," it says.

The American Library Association (ALA) opposes all filters, but a 2003 Supreme Court ruling upheld the constitutionality of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) .

CIPA was designed to shield minors from seeing sexually explicit material on the Web. The court's 6-3 decision said that libraries could turn off the software at the request of an adult so as not to limit access to materials.

Filters are "about 90 to 98 percent effective," in blocking access to sexual materials, said Chris Hansen, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in New York, which opposed CIPA.

"But about 20 to 30 percent of the time they over block," he said.

The ACLU and the ALA argued before the high court that filters violate free speech and could prevent minors from accessing, for example, materials on breast cancer or the Holocaust.

But Hansen said the Wilson's lawsuit has nothing to do with free speech or filtering; it is a case of workplace harassment.

"Her concerns deal with behavior and have nothing to do with the content of the speech provided by the library," said Hansen.

He said the library could arrange the computers so others, including the librarian, didn't have to view sexual materials that they found distasteful. Libraries can also put up privacy screens, he said.

"People are grabbing and pinching her," he said. "Even if there is nothing in the library but 245 copies of the Bible, you can't pinch employees, and if she told the manager and he did nothing about it, she has a pretty good case."

Hanson said that if Wilson can prove she was sexually harassed, "we are opposed to that, and the library has an obligation to deal with it. But the fact that the patrons in the library are accessing sexual material she doesn't like is not sexual harassment."

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