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Daimler chides workers who insulted CEO on Facebook

Hannah Cleaver · 25 May 2011, 08:07

Published: 25 May 2011 08:07 GMT+02:00

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A spokesman for the company confirmed to The Local that five employees had been called in for talks with personnel managers after saying they ‘liked’ a comment describing Chancellor Angela Merkel, former Baden-Württemberg state premier Stefan Mappus and Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche as Spitze des Lügenpacks - or ‘top of the pack of liars.’

“We were alerted by someone to the website on Facebook that was insulting to the chancellor, our former state premier and our CEO,” said Florian Martens.

“Then we decided to talk with the employees who had answered this remark and we told them that this did not adhere to the guidelines that they signed when they joined the company. It is not okay to insult colleagues.”

He said the conversations were held in the presence of a representative of the workers’ council.

“There were no consequences for the employees concerned, but they were on the page as Daimler employees,” he said.

“We wanted to alert them to the fact that they needed to be careful with anything they said online,” he said, stressing that the Facebook group was specifically identified as being Daimler employees.

He said the company had also contacted Facebook about the group – called ‘Daimler Colleagues against Stuttgart 21’ – to say it was unhappy about the insults being posted there. A number of left-wing and information technology sites have reported that the group has since been removed.

A Facebook group with this name located by The Local only had one registered member on Tuesday evening.

Wolfgang Nieke, head of the Daimler workers’ council said it was out of order for the firm to interfere.

“The personnel department showed no sensitivity in this case whatsoever,” he told the Stuttgarter Zeitung on Tuesday.

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He said the workers had used the social network in their private time.

“A private expression has nothing to do with the company,” he said.

Hannah Cleaver (hannah.cleaver@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

08:49 May 25, 2011 by Kayak
I hope that the workers didn't add insult to injury by using the informal form of "you liar!"

08:54 May 25, 2011 by DragonSlayer
Isn't this invasion of privacy at some level? I understand that the company has it's policy against employees insulting colleagues. But, what gives them the right to use comments made on Facebook as a reason for an official complaint? I'm just wondering about the legality of all this.
10:52 May 25, 2011 by Frenemy
Isn't that the monopoly guy?
10:56 May 25, 2011 by ame64
Go straight to Jail and dont pass go.....

Any CEO thats gets upset about some facebook crap has some kind of complex. And lets be honest, being called a liar is a very mild form if insult.

Jokes on him....
12:01 May 25, 2011 by pepsionice
If a company has a watch-dog team to monitor Facebook or Twitter....they've got too many employees. If a CEO or top level management guy makes this a top twenty priority....they need to start putting out resumes and looking for new work. It's kind of comical how this episode has developed, and I'm guessing someone will make a movie over it eventually.
12:56 May 25, 2011 by michael4096
German law on workplace aggression is very strict. The onus is on executive management to have demonstrable processes to address any name calling, particularly if it involves race, religion etc. But, even mild forms such as this are outlawed.

If the CEO complained, the company must do something about it or be legally liable. However, if the CEO complained and the company didn't do anything about it, the person held legally responsible is, of course, the CEO.
16:31 May 25, 2011 by catjones
a throwback to a totalitarian state. many dictatorships have the same laws forbidding criticism.
18:09 May 25, 2011 by michael4096

It has nothing to do with criticism. It is about respect and politeness - you can criticise work without being rude. I am criticising your post but I don't need to resort to personal attacks to do so.
19:25 May 25, 2011 by mikel taylor
getting called a Liar is just a childish expression that we have all used since Kindergarten ,, 'liar liar your pants are on fire" Cowboy up Germany, and quit wining about everything, life ain't fair and get used to it. If the execs at MB don't like what they read on Facebook maybe they should stick with Twitter,
20:59 May 25, 2011 by The-ex-pat
For the workers who "liked", biting the hand that feeds you comes to mind?
06:08 May 26, 2011 by Major B
Well I still Mr Z, the onetime Chairmean and CEO of Chrysler Corp. Loved his commercials although they were often ridiculed by the "not so nice too" American press.

I thought they were original and portrayed an authenticity. In a commercial advertisement on television he feigned outrage over comments and snickers that were made about his mustache.

Bet he isn't that outraged over the FaceBook comments. Every fool can say anything about anybody in a world where everybody has a voice in the online media
02:00 May 27, 2011 by wood artist
This is clearly an emerging question for the legal system and HR people everywhere. We all agree (I hope) that we have the right to be free from harassment and intimidation in the workplace. We also like to believe in free speech.

However, can an employee be harassed by fellow employees outside of work? Can that employee claim they are being subjected to a hostile work environment? Certainly the door is open to such claims, even if the "speech" is done outside of work.

The issue, ultimately, is the public nature of the internet. I can talk to "Bill" about what we think of "Tom" in the car, and nothing comes of it. However, if I have that conversation on the internet, where "Tom" can see it, then it opens other doors.

I don't pretend to know the right answer, but it's a legitimate question, and a place where new laws and rules are going to be needed. I certainly would be concerned if I faced going to work where a bunch of co-workers said publicly that they "disliked" me. I'd think of that as being "hostile."

01:28 June 4, 2011 by alex6500
I am in the USA and a lot of comments from strangers who comment to facebook posts are rude, use dirty language,insult the President and in general just mean spirited,
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