For the second time since July, the 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 today 24 workers have been fired and another 230 have been disciplined in the latest incident.

The actions were taken after an employee complaint caused the company to investigate e-mail use at the plant, he said.

The punishments were set depending on what was sent in the e-mails, Grates said. “The content was sexually explicit as well as some violent images,” he said.

The company doesn’t routinely monitor employee e-mail usage and doesn’t plan on changing that policy, he said. However, the company does periodic monitoring when server hard disks become full, to determine why the disks are full, he said. If inappropriate material is found, an investigation could ensue.

The company has policies prohibiting the sending of pornographic and violent e-mails, Grates said. The policies are laid out in employee handbooks and on the company’s computer system, he said.

Dow investigates such complaints to protect workers in their plants, he said.

“We didn’t set out to find all this content,” he said. “We just simply acted on a complaint.”

“Out of respect for other employees out on the sites that we have around the country or even the world, we need to ensure that we have a good working environment, and one way to ensure that is to follow up on employee complaints.”

Grates said both incidents affect 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 people aren’t doing this.”

In the July incident, which occurred in the company’s Midland plant, 50 workers were fired and another 200 were disciplined for distributing, downloading or saving pictures that were either pornographic or violent in nature.

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



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