Coping with the actions of employees

Posted on April 8, 2011

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When is the business and when are the employees culpable for illegal acts. Today 3 Virgin employees have been found fraudulent in using data from customers to second guess results at the X-Factor. It seems like Virgin have taken the right steps in suspending the employees as soon as they were notified and in eventually dismissing the employees. But what safeguards were put in place to avoid this happening in the first place? How prevalent was the code of conduct inside Virgin? Were employees made aware on a day to day basis of their responsibilities when it came to treating this data confidentially and never using the information for activities outside of work?

Of course, it should just be self-evident to anyone concerned that the use of the data for ill-gotten gains is wrong, and I’m sure that Virgin has a very clear code of conduct. That said, people will do stupid things and in today’s trigger happy legal environment some people will quickly look for reasons as to why they did things before taking responsibility for their actions. Why do we live in a world littered with safety signs? Is it because unless the signs are there some people might forget to wear their hard hat or not touch the live electricity, or is it because if the sign is not there then that person that wishes to take the risk might actually sue for the absence of signs if it all goes wrong?

Which leads you back to the Virgin story and the poor actions of these staff. Were there enough ‘safe practice’ signs in the workplace to guard both the company and guide the employees, and what would the lawyers make of the situation if there were not?

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