Company feels backlash after employee's comments go viral - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Company feels backlash after employee's comments go viral


There is new information in a story about a Facebook post and the comments with it that went viral. A war of words ignited online, and now the employer of one of the commenters is speaking out, saying it was pulled into the line of fire.

Leaders at Haas Transport, Inc. in Thorp never imagined they would be involved in a social media scandal.

"It's not something you wake up in the morning and say that's what's going to happen," said Rob Nelson, Haas Transport's human resource and safety director.

It all centers on a picture that was shared on Facebook. The post originated in Marshfield. The author said he found a picture of a man standing in front of the camera on his trail camera, which was on public property. He claimed his camera had been tampered with. Fiery comments followed the post. Some suggested shooting the man in the picture and others used racial slurs.

"Some of those comments are very serious and very hurtful," said Peter Yang, Wausau Area Hmong Mutual Association's executive director.

One of Haas Transport's employees commented, using threatening language. Soon after, the company started getting emails.

"It says 'The picture has already gone viral on Facebook and being shared quickly and with one click, we can see how your company's being represented,'" said Nelson as he read an e-mail.

Haas Transport leaders say the employee's comments do not represent the company. They also said the employee made the comments on his own time and without using company resources.

But criticism keeps coming in.

"'I am completely appalled by these remarks. Although I am Hmong, my network reaches far and wide and with these close knit communities, word travels fast,'" said Nelson as he read another e-mail.

As for dealing with the employee, the company's spokesman says its hands are tied.

"It's a federal and state law that says that you cannot take any adverse action for something that they've done that doesn't pertain to your company specifically," said Nelson.

The company has offered the employee counseling.

Peter Yang works to promote cultural understanding and help integrate the Hmong community.

"The community has come a long way but obviously there are still people out there who still don't know much about the Hmong and they have a different attitude, different feeling about the Hmong," said Nelson.

That was apparent in the comments on the photo.

Now, the Marathon County Sheriff's Department says it is investigating the original post and the comments that followed.

Newsline 9 reached out to those behind the comments and the original poster. They haven't returned out request for comment.

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