Question regarding workplace ethics.

We’ve got a gentleman here at work who has been accused of having unacceptable digital material on his camera of the underage girl next door. I shan’t go into too many details except to say that he was arrested and is now out on $10,000 bail with orders to not have contact with his wife (who found the images) or the child. Trial pending - and the story was reported in the papers.
So, basically everyone here at work knows, but innocent until proven guilty and all that.
My concern is with the following scenario. On the bulletin board near the guy’s cubicle someone printed out the (online) story and pinned it up there. It’s in plain view, the board is not cluttered with other stuff. There are three other things pinned up and this particular posting is plainly visible. And yes, his name is in the article, they didn’t use a generic term like, “Milwaukee man arrested…” they use his actual name.
Is this appropriate? Why or why not?

Well, if it was in the newspaper, it’s public knowledge. You’re not doing any more damage to this man’s reputation.

On the other hand, if this bulletin board was in a public area where it can be viewed by visitors or customers, then yeah, it’s inappropriate.

Robin

Ho boy, I suspect this will generate a bit of controversy. I really can see both sides; a right to presumed innocence until proven otherwise vs honest attemps to inform others someone has predatory tendencies.

I guess right now though, while I completely understand someone’s motivations for posting such an article and despite being a dad, I’d probably lean toward an office bulletin board not being the proper place for such an inflammitory item. If the guy is a danger then his punishment needs to be addressed by law enforcement and, if necessary, work management. It shouldn’t be up to coworkers to villify him beyond the inevitable office gossip.

What’s the purpose of the bulletin board in the first place? What’s management’s policy on remaining at work when an individual is facing incarceration?

The bulletin board in this particular area is mostly used for posting technical articles relating to work and the occasional Dilbert.
I have no idea what managements official stance is on this but it seems like they will allow him to work here until a verdict is handed down or he looses too much time due to the trial and such.

I would have to say it’s inappropriate.

It would definitely appear that the poster’s motivation for putting the article up was to harass the accused co-worker. Since the bulletin board is in the office, everything posted there is there with the implied consent of the company, and harassment of an employee, whether deserved or not, is not something a company wants to be seen as condoning.

I dunno, I was pretty pissed off when my boss (much previous) posted that I was ticketed for criminal damage to property and trespassing (for playing basketball on a freshly painted court (after previous players took down the barricades and two days after the paint was applied)) on the board by our time-clocks. Prick. I was eventually found not guilty, of course. But I had to endure critical review from fellow staff for several weeks on that one. Mostly just fun jabbing, but the ass that posted it meant for it to stress me out, I’m sure.

I would find it hard, if it was me, to work with and make eye contact with my fellow employees if the story is posted at the work place. “Out of sight out of mind” comes into play here, I think.

Pretty much what he said.

I just hate gossip. Is it hurtful? Is it helpful? If it’s the former, grow some class and shut your mouth. And I don’t see how this is any different from gossip, true or not.

I assume you’re directing that at the person(s) who posted the sign?

Yes, I’m sorry, was I unclear? I tend to do that.

I have to agree with the others - the article should come down. It’s not appropriate - and it’s meant to harass the person mentioned in it.

**Totally ** unacceptable. Even leaving aside the issue of “innocent until proven guilty”, isn’t this pretty much the definition of creating a hostile work environment?

Agreed… “guilty until proven innocent” pops into my head here.

It should come down. People know anyways, and all it’s going to do is serve as a reminder that, hey, he’s going on trial. It strikes me as a ‘rub it in his face’ action, rather than one that will serve any useful purpose.

Would things change if the young girl was under 10 and one of the workers here is the wife’s friend who actually saw the images herself (it’s a very large company)? Does that blow the innocent 'till proven guilty thing out the window?

Unless the business in question has vulnerable children on the premises and the people in charge of those children are so numerous that simply verbally relaying the information in a one-on-one situation isn’t feasible, then no, this is not appropriate.

I completely understand the impulse. I’m a teacher, and the thought of any of my current or former students being prey to a pedophile or other predator lights up every corner of my brain. It would be difficult for me to restrain the impulse to punish or outright harm someone I thought was guilty. I would do it, though, because I understand that I don’t have all the information, and vigilante justice is an oxymoron.

The article should come down.

No. *Nothing * blows “innocent until proven guilty” out the window. Our entire justice system is based on the concept that no one’s word is inherently more sound than anyone else’s.

And it doesn’t address the hostile work environment issue. If people are so offended that he’s being allowed to continue working there, they can quit in protest. They can NOT drive him out with pitchforks.

Not in my eyes.

–FCOD

This is such a good comment it bears repeating. Is this what anybody wants? Because that’s where this kind of busybodyness leads.

Absoultely inappropriate. HR should be informed and they should take it down. Talk about a hostile work envrionment! When another worker gets upset and physically attacks the man, who will be at fault?