A new report claims that employees of a Facebook contractor are protesting what they see as an attempt to violate confidential therapy sessions for workers whose job constantly exposes them troubling material.
Both Facebook and the contractor contest the report’s accuracy and deny any wrongdoing.
The concerns center around the social media giant’s offices in Austin, Texas, where employees of Accenture work as Facebook moderators.
Moderators, who view various forms of disturbing content every shift, have access to on-site counseling from the firm WeCare. But, according to a complaint published by The Intercept, several managers tried to find out what was said at those sessions. The complaint portrays the practice as a part of an increasingly unpleasant working environment at the facility.
“This pressuring of a licensed counselor to divulge confidential information is at best a careless breach of trust into the Wellness program and, at worst, an ethics and possible legal violation,” the complaint, which circulated within Facebook, stated.
The complaint also wants one offender fired.
“The manager who pressed the counselor for confidential medical information must be removed from the project immediately. To do any less would be Facebook, Accenture, and WeCare condoning breaches in medical confidentiality. Allowing the pressuring of a licensed counselor into committing an act [that] could strip the counselor of their credentials must be addressed swiftly,” the complaint read.
The complaint then added that concerns have grown.
“Since the beginning of writing this letter we became aware that [a different manager] that the above [manager] reports to is now pressuring these counselors to divulge more confidential information. This is no longer an isolated incident but a systemic top-down problem plaguing Accenture management,” the complaint said.
In a statement to The Western Journal, Accenture said the claims were wrong.
“As we noted in our original response, this allegation is inaccurate. We’re aware of a recent internal workplace blog post that included allegations regarding the privacy and confidentiality protections of our wellness program. We take our obligations and commitments to our people extremely seriously and immediately investigated the allegations when we became aware of the posting. We have confirmed that these allegations are without merit,” the spokesman said.
Facebook also responded to The Western Journal and said it had investigated the complaint.
“All of our partners must provide a resiliency plan that is reviewed and approved by Facebook. This includes a holistic approach to wellbeing and resiliency that puts the needs of their employees first. All leaders and wellness coaches receive training on this employee resource and while we do not believe that there was a breach of privacy in this case, we have used this as an opportunity to reemphasize that training across the organization.”
“We looked into this with Accenture and found no wrong doing and used this as an opportunity to educate and retrain,” the Facebook statement said.
The report by the Intercept included allegations that access to counselors was being restricted, that therapy was linked to productivity and that moderators were being banned form discussing wellness issues with one another. Accenture told The Western Journal that it denied those allegations.
The Intercept report was not the first time working conditions at Facebook’s Austin offices have been the target of protests.
In May, The Washington Post reported that workers were protesting what they regarded as their status within Facebook s as “second-class citizens” and their working conditions.
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