Energy Exec Suspended Over Online Comments

An energy industry executive in San Fransisco has been suspended after engaging with opponents of smart meters. William Devereaux, an executive for the Pacific Gas & Electric Company went online using a pseudonym to engage with opponents of PG&E’s plan to use smart meters to measure electrical usage in the area.

Devereaux, who is the Senior Director of the smart meter plan, used the name “Ralph” to talk to opponents of the plan. However, his email address was logged when using the online commenting system giving away his true identity.

After the interaction was revealed, Devereaux was suspended with pay while PG&E investigates the situation. The incident reveals the ways in which companies are monitoring the online activities of employees, and the real world consequences of actions taken online.

Increasingly, employers are using social networks and online monitoring to closely watch what their employees are doing, both in the office and in their free time. Employers are becoming savvier at finding what and where employees are saying online, and have used such postings as reasons for suspensions, terminations and other adverse employment actions.

Employees should be mindful of the fact that much of what is posted online is viewable by everyone, and should use social networks with this in mind.