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Premium Member
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Discussion Starter #1
Interesting information here, and a must read for folks who are employees or associated with GM.

Serious stuff.


I might point out at this point that any information I've posted has never come from a source that is not available online somewhere else. :jester

Premium Member
8,901 Posts
Well, once you've posted it online I guess you can then backwards refer to yourself as an online source? :jester

Mod Emeritus
7,468 Posts
Just another example of why it is important for any insiders not to divulge information that is not already freely available from GM. We all want to know more, and none of us wants to see anyone put their job in jeopardy by telling us more.

I don't think you have to worry Bob, unless your going to fire yourself! :lol

Premium Member
5,206 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Det News Article - in case unavailable at link Part 1

Detroit News
Sunday, January 30, 2005

Workers discover power of Web comes with price

Companies crack down on employees who misuse the Net or post secret documents.

By Karen Dybis / The Detroit News
Gregory Smith / Associated Press

Workers on the Web

With one keystroke, David Pilgreen deleted a 16-year career at Kmart Holding Corp.

A regular at an online chat site called BlueLightEmployees -- where workers and others debate the Troy-based retailer's virtues and flaws -- Pilgreen wanted the desktop critics to know Kmart did well over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

So on Nov. 30, he logged on under his screen name, DeepPerple, and posted companywide sales data that was circulated at the Atlanta-area distribution center where he worked.

By the next morning, his post had disappeared from the site. Less than 24 hours later, Pilgreen was summoned to a meeting with his general manager and a human resources official and fired for disclosing confidential information.

Pilgreen logged on and posted the news at 1:26 a.m. under the subject line, "DeepPerple in deep @$#%"

"I was always the company man," Pilgreen said. "I didn't think it would hurt the company. I admit it. I did something wrong. It just seems kind of harsh. I expected a warning."

Pilgreen's is a cautionary tale for companies and employees who are finding the power of the Internet comes with a price. Any sense of privacy employees feel while surfing the Web at work is an illusion.

For companies, the Internet age has opened the door for hackers, the easy dissemination of confidential information and lost productivity. Half of all employees say they spend two hours a week surfing the Web at work. And 70 percent of all Internet porn traffic happens during the 9-to-5 grind.

According to the Web site BoingBoing, close to two dozen well-known companies such as Delta Airlines and Apple computers have fired or punished employees for Internet violations

General Motors Corp. is among a growing list of companies that block sites catering to fantasy football leagues. Troy-based Delphi Corp. has fired a "small amount" of employees for violating its Internet policy, according to spokeswoman Luce Rubio. The auto parts maker forbids employees to access Web sites not related to work, although they are allowed to quickly check personal e-mail.

"Internet use in the workplace is widely abused," said Jay Poupard, a computer forensic specialist with Mid-Michigan Computer Forensics Group in Fenton. "An employee is supposed to use the Web to do their work. But their Internet histories tell a completely different story."

Pilgreen, a 36-year-old single father, joins the small but growing number of people who thought their online lives were private but found out otherwise. Pilgreen says he would trade his new-found online infamy to go back to work.

"I was really starting to enjoy my job," Pilgreen said.

"I read through the "Code of Conduct" that is also posted on mykmart.com. And it does say that you shouldn't share confidential information with anyone outside the company. And it does mention message boards. But I just don't see this being one of those situations. But I may be wrong." -- DeepPerple

Message posted 8:56 a.m. Dec. 2 on BlueLightEmployees chat room

For people like Pilgreen, using the Internet is like breathing. Some 88 percent of Americans say the Internet plays a role in their daily routines, according to the 2004 Pew Internet & American Life survey.

The latest distraction is Web-based diaries, or blogs. About 8 million people, or 7 percent of all U.S. adults who use the Internet, say they have created a blog, and 27 percent of Internet users say they read blogs regularly.

Because of the Internet's prevalence, most employers have instituted strict online usage policies. Some even install expensive monitoring software to watch where their employees roam online. Yet the problem persists across all forms of electronic communication.

A 2004 survey of 840 companies found that one in five respondents had employee e-mail and instant messages subpoenaed during a lawsuit or regulatory investigation, according to the American Management Association in New York. That is more than double the 9 percent found in 2001. Another 13 percent battled workplace lawsuits triggered by an employee's email.

Poupard said the two most common workplace abuses his company sees are employees viewing adult material and illegally downloading software. The biggest problem is software that allows computers to share music files, such as Napster, Kazaa and Morpheus.

"Those files are coming from hundreds or thousands of people. With one three-minute song, you've got bits coming from hundreds of different sources online," Poupard said. "A company's network could be easily compromised," allowing viruses, cookies, problematic programs or illegal material to proliferate through its system.

Smaller businesses can get away with keeping a watchful eye on their staffs. Larger corporations like a Kmart must be more vigilant, Poupard said, because they have no way to monitor their workers. Without the appropriate controls in place -- a broad Internet policy and protective software -- a company's security is open to trouble.

"To let everyone know ... I was fired yesterday for that post. 16 years down the drain for something stupid. So be careful what you post, and good luck to everyone. GO KMART/SEARS!!!"

-- DeepPerple, message posted 1:26 a.m. sent 12/3/2004 on BlueLightEmployees chat room

Pilgreen joined Kmart in 1987 when he was 20 years old. He started as a temporary worker at the retailer's distribution center in his hometown of Newnan, Ga., a suburb of about 15,000 outside Atlanta. A year later, he was hired full time.

"Before I was with Kmart, I was washing cars at a car dealership," Pilgreen said. "My brother-in-law worked for the Kmart (in Atlanta) at the time, and he suggested I go to the temp service and apply, so I did. I was young and didn't finish high school. I was just going with the flow, you can say."

He had done nearly every job at the center during his 16 years there. At the time he was fired, Pilgreen was in charge of unloading the trucks and labeling the boxes to ensure the freight was put in the right place.

He said he often saw confidential information about Kmart, including sales numbers. Those were included in weekly fliers handed out around the distribution center. He also had access to the passwords used on Kmart's computers, where he could look at internal documents.

The only thing Pilgreen could not do was check for new messages on his two favorite Kmart chat rooms. The company blocked access to those sites at work, Pilgreen said.

Pilgreen says he had posted sales data on more than one occasion. In May, he shared daily sales statistics on another popular chat room, Bluelightlogistics, to get his friends' reactions.

"No one (at Kmart) said anything," Pilgreen said. "Most of those who posted on the site were negative about Kmart. I wanted to put good news out there. I put everything good I could about Kmart. I thought maybe I could change some people's minds."

Kmart knew who Pilgreen was and his screen name. A few years before, his distribution center was preparing to unionize and Pilgreen had written chat room messages that were pro-company. Kmart officials tracked him down, and he was interviewed by some company lawyers about the situation.

"They knew I posted, so the decision probably came from Troy headquarters," Pilgreen said. "The HR lady seemed upset. She and the general managers just kept telling me it was out of their hands."

"Regardless of how u feel about Deep............it was inappropriate to post sales figures on a message board, they are confidential."

-- obx7, message posted 11:51 a.m. 12/9/2004 on BlueLightEmployees chat room

Kmart won't comment about Pilgreen's situation, other than to say the retailer has a clear policy about putting sensitive information out in public, said spokesman Steve Pagnani.

For example, in its distribution center handbook, it states: "As with all company communications, confidential information should not be divulged to outside parties unless the parties are subject to a Kmart confidentiality agreement."

Labor attorneys generally agree that workers have little recourse when it comes to these and other related issues. The bottom line is an at-will employee can be fired without notice for most anything, including inappropriate Web surfing.


Premium Member
5,206 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Det News Article - in case unavailable at link Part 2

(continued part 2)
Robert Pritchard, a professor of public relations at Ball State University, said companies and employees need to talk more about the proper use of these new multimedia tools such as e-mail, chat rooms and blogs.

"Employees need to understand what is appropriate to communicate in public and what is not," Pritchard said.

"What's the difference between a public chat room and a letter to the editor, a radio talk show or even talking to your neighbor across the fence?

"Just because it's a new medium doesn't mean it is right."

"It is amazing to me how the business ethics at Kmart works. You steal and rob from the company and you get several million dollars to leave. You keep people informed, who have a right to be informed, about information that is public knowledge and you get the boot."

-- kmfriend, message posted 4:41 p.m. 12/4/2004 on BlueLightEmployees chat room

A small group of bloggers and attorneys is fighting companies it says are becoming too restrictive about their employees' online usage, impinging on people's rights to free speech and privacy.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group of lawyers and volunteers in San Francisco, has helped some bloggers fight lawsuits seeking to reveal their identities. Foundation members argue that the same laws that protect journalists' sources also apply to those of bloggers.

Ellen Simonetti, a Texan also known as "Queen of Sky," is leading the charge. The Delta Air Lines employee started her blog, "Diary of a Flight Attendant," in January 2004 as a form of therapy to help her get over her mother's death.

In October, Delta suspended her from her job of seven years for posting non-offensive pictures of herself in her company uniform on her blog. Today, she is appealing to get her job back, collecting unemployment and updating her blog on a regular basis.

"I think that employers are having knee-jerk reactions to the new technology of blogs. They need to accept this digital revolution and set clear guidelines for what is acceptable for their employees to do or say on the Internet," Simonetti said.

Simonetti has written a bloggers' Bill of Rights, which she hopes will inspire action from online writers and employers. She posted it online this month, and she had already had 10,000 hits on the site and about 80 signatures of support.

"I would say, if you are worried about it, ask your employer before you start blogging," Simonetti said. "And if you think that your blog will be anonymous and will not cause you any problems, be forewarned! Most of the bloggers that have been fired so far were anonymous bloggers, including myself."

Pilgreen still posts regularly on BlueLightEmployees, checking in on distribution center issues here in Canton and other topics.

He doubts Kmart will ever take him back.

"I really don't know what I'm going to do right now," he said.

You can reach Karen Dybis at (313) 222-2319 or [email protected]. Source: Detroit News research Source: Detroit News research
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