Magazine article Security Management

Zero Tolerance

Magazine article Security Management

Zero Tolerance

Article excerpt

Zero tolerance. The National Labor Relations Board has determined that an employee who sent an e-mail to her colleagues regarding a possible anthrax threat could be terminated under her employer's zero tolerance policy.

In the fall of 2001, Sprint employed 25,000 workers at its headquarters and warehousing facilities in Overland Park, Kansas. On October 31, Sprint technicians performed maintenance work at the Kansas City, Missouri, Stamp Fulfillment Services Center operated by the United States Postal Service (USPS). The next day, the USPS informed a Sprint manager that the technicians who performed the maintenance work might have been exposed to anthrax. Additionally, the USPS told Sprint that some of the equipment used during the maintenance work and later brought back to the Sprint warehouse might also have been contaminated.

The manager called Sprint corporate security. Security sealed the warehouse and notified local authorities. The warehouse was closed for several days while an independent laboratory tested the equipment for anthrax contamination. The tests were negative, so the technicians were given antibiotics as a precautionary measure, and the ware-house was reopened on November 6.

Sprint's consumer-marketing group was housed at another building in another part of the city. Trina Fry, a consumer-marketing employee, received a call from her daughter-in-law on November 2. Another employee, Jeborah Diebold, was in Fry's cubicle at the time and overheard part of the conversation. Fry related that her daughter-in-law, also a Sprint employee, had heard that there was a possibility of anthrax contamination at the warehouse.

After overhearing these comments and speaking to other employees in the department, Diebold returned to her desk. Diebold then sent an e-mail message to four Sprint employees. The message (which contained grammatical errors that have been left intact) read: "Anthrax has been confirmed in the Warehouse in Lenexa the facility has been closed. All employees are being tested. This where bills are printed and sent as well as payphones built, there are three separate yet one facility. We are not clear which one was actually tested positive. This happened Wednesday evening and the test came back this morning. The material management team ... is being tested due to frequent trips to the facility."

The e-mail spread quickly and was eventually shown to the manager who received the call from the USPS and had been dealing with the incident. …

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