CA auto club fires 27 for Web posts

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A California automobile club has fired 27 workers for posting messages on a popular social networking Web site.

The Automobile Club of Southern California fired the employees in one of its San Diego offices after at least one worker complained to management about feeling harassed by the comments, which were written by employees on the MySpace.com Web site on their own time at home.

Club spokeswoman Carol Thorp said comments were made about other workers' weight and sexual orientation.

"When a worker complains about harassment, you take it seriously," Thorp said Friday.

Thorp said employees were also dismissed because they discussed online how they planned to slow down roadside assistance at work.

"That hits right at our basic service," she said.
Thorp said the workers, whom she did not identify, were either service dispatchers or administrative support workers.

"This isn't a free speech issue," said Thorp. "You can't just go on and say anything about anybody - and keep your job."

MySpace representatives could not immediately be reached for comment. The site, recently acquired by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., features brash blogs and seductive photos within chatty Web networks.

Thorp declined to go into details about the association's investigation into the issue but said several employees used their names and posted their own photos on some of the messages. Others acknowledged their participation when confronted, she added.

The workers were fired in the last four to five weeks, she said.

The club has no official policy concerning employee blogging. "We may develop one now," Thorp added.

Associated Press