Goldman Sachs employees better not think of grabbing lunch or taking in the scenery at Zucotti Park. "The firm” as it’s known among its workers has banned employees from going to the site of the Occupy Wall Street protests for any reason, CNBC reports.
As the protests, which started September 17 continue into their fourth week, Goldman Sachs employees are being told to stay away from the park, at least six Goldman staffers told CNBC. The staffers said they didn’t know whether the policy was official.
The ban on entering the the park is just one of many policies Goldman uses to try to keep its employees -- and itself -- out of the public eye. As of January, the investment bank had banned the use of Facebook, despite its $450 million investment in the social networking site, according to Fast Company. Goldman also banned its employees from commenting on popular Wall Street site Dealbreaker in 2008.
It doesn't stop there. The investment bank has also asked employees not to use profanity in their emails. Goldman’s request that staffers self-censor came after Senator Carl Levin brought up an email during a Senate hearing in which one Goldman employee called a deal “shitty.”
And Goldman’s hold on its employees isn't limited to their Internet presence, either. Tokyo-based Goldman staffers were told not to leave Tokyo following the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, even as the employees expressed concern about possible radiation exposure, according to a CNBC report.
Even former staffers who choose to leave Goldman or other investment banks are often subject to the banks’ privacy rules after they’ve departed. Employees who’ve quit the banks to work in the media, music, film or even as restaraunters say they are subject to privacy agreements that restrict what they can say about their former employer, according to The New York Times. A financial district tour guide and a hip-hop artist -- both former Goldman employees -- said they left the company after tensions arose over their side careers.
The policies both for current and former employees may not only be aimed at keeping Goldman out of PR trouble, but out of legal trouble as well. The firm spent more than $700 million on lawyers in 2010, The Wall Street Journal reports, as it faced scrutiny from regulators and others.
Even with all of the restrictions on outside of work activities, Goldman and other banks might do well to keep their employees from saying too much while at work. In June, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Office of Comptroller of the Currency, upped the number of regulators they have “embedded” at the nation’s biggest banks, The Wall Street Journal reported.
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