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Whole Foods Market is reportedly monitoring its employees' online postings, including on private accounts if it finds a way to gain viewing privileges to them. The snooping comes in wake of its CEO's controversial comments.  (Source: LIFE)
Big brother (your WFM manager) is watching you online, even if your page is private

Whole Foods Market, based out of Austin, Texas, is one of the nation's largest health-food supermarket chains with over 275 locations in the United States, Canada, and the UK.  It has traditionally been listed as a top place to work as it provides its employees with competitive wages and much better health benefits than many of its competitors.

The company is currently struggling with an identity crisis, with CEO John Mackey looking to purge what he views as unhealthy evils such as processed sugars and white bread from the chain's lineup.  And he created a major storm of publicity when he attacked President Obama's healthcare reform plan in a Wall Street Journal interview.  And to top it all off, sales of the company are slipping.

Amid this harsh atmosphere and its CEO's controversial comments, the company is reportedly cracking down on employees' expression of dissatisfaction online.  DailyTech interviewed Whole Foods Market employees at several locations, and according to them the chain has implemented a zero tolerance policy with regards to online postings and is aggressively monitoring its employees.

One employee reports that the company discovered a post on their private Facebook page via a friend who leaked the info.  The post complained about a long day and obnoxious customers.  Despite the fact that the general public could not view the page, WFM reportedly gave the employee a disciplinary notice and disciplined several other employees who commented on the post as well.  WFM is reportedly monitoring its employee's Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, and blog accounts both directly and via friends (for private accounts) to identify and silence such complaints.

While such WFM is by no means the first employer to carry out such a campaign, it remains alarming nonetheless that the company is going to such lengths to scrutinize casual comments on private online posting spots.  It is unclear if the policy has been adopted nationwide, but it's clear at least that it has been adopted across the state that the interviews were conducted in, which is home to several WFM stores.

The employees we spoke with called the tactic "intrusive" and "scary".  They also expressed concern that the actions of their company's CEO are provoking the company to attack its employees as a reactionary response to the embarrassment his comments are causing.

Employees written up unfortunately have little recourse inside the store.  Unlike many grocers, Whole Foods Market is not unionized.  However, it would seem unsurprising to see employees sue the company for invasion of privacy if this policy continues.



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RE: Fvck em!
By iFX on 11/24/2009 11:55:59 PM , Rating: 2
What an amazing parallel! Working in a grocery store and working for the Executive branch of the US Federal Government! It makes perfect sense!


RE: Fvck em!
By Oregonian2 on 11/25/2009 2:02:50 PM , Rating: 2
Quite right. In terms of principles involved there's no difference.


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