Porn emails land bankers in hot water


23 Jun 2006

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Merrill Lynch, the investment bank and financial advisory firm, sent home more than 20 employees from its Dublin office earlier this week for having sent pornographic emails and has given written warnings to a further 10 staff for inappropriate email use.

The members of staff alleged to have sent pornographic emails have been put on leave and were told to stay away from work. No decision has been made as to further disciplinary measures, a Merrill Lynch spokesman told siliconrepublic.com.

Legally, if a company does not have acceptable email and internet usage policies in place or staff are not made aware of them, errant workers could escape sanctions because they could claim that they are not expressly forbidden from sending or receiving inappropriate emails.

However, Merrill Lynch confirmed it maintains such documents and staff are made aware of them. In a statement, the company said: “Our employees are notified of, and advised to carefully follow strict policies on electronic communications. We want to create the right environment for our employees and do not condone inappropriate use of the firm’s systems.”

The firm’s acceptable email and internet usage policies include sanctions from mandatory email training right up to termination of contract in the most serious cases. There are no financial penalties for breaching the policy, however.

The spokesman said that the staff who received written warnings did not send pornographic emails but these would have been offensive in nature.

By Gordon Smith