Different Calls for City of Fresno and County

July 1, 2008 9:40:13 PM PDT
Steve Morgan is a traveling salesman who drives 20,000 miles a year for his job. "We're a full service janitorial supply company." His cell phone is his lifeline. "I can be there in a couple of minutes, he tells a client over the phone."He's had his wireless earpiece for a while. He said, "I guess you can call me an early adopter." But his company recently adopted a new cell phone policy similar to the new state law. Legal experts say it's a way for businesses to protect themselves against employees who don't follow the rules.

Morgan said "For me to break the law and be involved in an accident because I was breaking the law would be sufficient grounds for me to be let go."

Al Smith, President of Fresno's Chamber of Commerce, created a policy for his employees that goes a step further than the state law, and even had employees sign it. He said, "Even if you have a hands-free, you should not be placing a call for chamber business."

In his weekly e-newsletter to the chamber's 22-hundred members he suggested that business owners come up with their own cell phone policies for liability reasons. He said "Then at least we have the ability to say look, they were instructed not to do it so blame them don't blame us. Now whether that holds up in court is another story."

The city of Fresno gave its employees hands-free devices for their city-issued cell phones. But Fresno County employees have been banned from even using wireless devices while driving since 2005. The county's chief administrative officer, Bart Bohn said, "When that happens and they cause an accident the county is liable and unfortunately the taxpayer ends up paying for those accidents."


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