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Dow fires more employees over inappropriate e-mails

Computerworld

(IDG) -- For the second time since July, Dow Chemical Co. has fired a group of workers and reprimanded others after the employees allegedly violated the company's policies against pornographic e-mails.

Eric Grates, a spokesman for the Midland, Mich.-based company, said 24 workers at a manufacturing plant in Freeport, Texas, have been fired and another 230 have been disciplined in the latest incident. Dow last month warned it would dismiss up to 40 people at the Texas facility in the wake of employee complaints about inappropriate e-mail usage (see link below).

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The punishments that resulted from the company's investigation at the plant were set depending on what individual employees sent to others via the corporate e-mail system, Grates said. He added that the content included in messages "was sexually explicit as well as some violent images."

Dow doesn't routinely monitor employee e-mail usage and doesn't plan to change that policy, Grates said. However, the company does periodic monitoring when server hard disks become full, to determine why that has happened, he said. If inappropriate material is found, an investigation could ensue.

The company also has policies in place that prohibit employees from sending pornographic or violent e-mails, Grates noted. The policies are laid out in employee handbooks and on the company's computer system, he said.

In a separate incident in July, 50 workers at Dow's headquarters site in Michigan were fired and another 200 were disciplined for distributing, downloading or saving pictures that were either pornographic or violent in nature (see link below).

In both incidents, the disciplined and fired workers were both male and female and ranged from factory workers to executives, Grates said.

Dow investigates complaints such as the ones received in Michigan and Texas in order to protect the workers in its plants and "ensure that we have a good working environment," he said. "We didn't set out to find all this content. We just simply acted on a complaint."

However, Grates added that the two incidents affected only a small number of Dow's 39,000 employees. "We're not talking about a large number of people," he said. Because of that, "there's no sense in putting in a regular [e-mail] monitoring policy when the bulk of the [workers] aren't doing this."




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