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Dow Workers Got What They Deserved

February 25, 2001

Our hearts don't bleed one drop for those Dow Chemical workers who were fired for sending graphic, sexually offensive e-mails ("Fired by Big Brother," by Greg Miller, Jan. 28). What Miller calls "a time-honored [workplace] tradition" has a more common name: sexual harassment. Those Neanderthals must have been holed up pretty well in their caves to miss the national dialogue that's been going on for more than a decade on this issue. It's common knowledge that most companies have adopted zero-tolerance policies on sexual harassment to avoid the risk of huge financial consequences. Dow's policy on the inappropriate use of e-mail was plainly communicated in their Respect and Responsibility booklet, which was distributed to each of those workers two months prior to the complaint. If they couldn't be bothered to read it or abide by that policy, then that's their tough luck.

Tim Paine and Karen Simmons

North Hollywood

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As a former employee-relations manager for an aerospace company, I think Dow made a mistake when it tried to judge the egregiousness of the deed by the material's content. The violation should be considered in the context of the written and stated policy that was violated. The "punishment grid" will not stand up in arbitration, at least for the union workers. Dismissal without verbal or written warning(s) is hard to sustain unless the violation endangers other employees (i.e. assault). Sounds like an overreaction by the company, or possibly a hidden agenda.

Robert L. Shelton

Palm Springs

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I wonder if any of the offensive e-mail streaming around Dow contained photos of the damage done by napalm, Agent Orange or silicone breast implants. Since these three terrific products have been produced by Dow, would an employee be terminated or rewarded for photos of Dow's products at work?

Wayne Kennan

Agoura Hills

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I had to laugh at Dow chief executive Mike Parker and his assessment that his company has "great values." Dow is responsible for helping pollute our environment with irrelevant and toxic household materials. How is that a great value? And to fire people based on a first offense doesn't seem to be a great value either.

Scott Montiel

Van Nuys

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I am no fan of Dow Chemical. They are probably the worst offenders of chemical irresponsibility known on the planet. However, regarding the use of e-mail as a source of smut and other pornographic activities, I wholeheartedly agree with their decision. How they fired those folks without warning may be an infringement of some rights. But other folks also have rights--not to have their bodies ridiculed or made fun of.

Mar-Lou Gaudet

Palmdale

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Miller's article is reminiscent of a remark by an Australian: When England was deporting its "undesirables" and distributing them among the colonies, we (the Aussies) were lucky to get the convicts, while the Americans got the Puritans. If I were among those more than 200 Dow employees who were fired or disciplined for e-mail inappropriateness, I'd rather have those ex-cons as my bosses than Dow's "Puritans."

Shelley Martin

Via the Internet

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