Two Atos Healthcare employees are being investigated over allegations they made inappropriate remarks on Facebook about the people they assess for sickness and disability benefits, and are accused of separately referring to them as "parasites" and "down and outs".
Atos Healthcare, a division of IT services firm Atos Origin, is sub-contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to carry out re-assessments on 1.5 million people claiming sickness and disability benefits.
The incident follows a critical report from a House of Commons Select Committee which found that tens of thousands of sick and disabled people had been wrongly declared "fit for work" by the French-owned outsourcing company. Appeals are estimated to cost the taxpayer around £50m a year, said MPs.
A spokeswoman from Atos confirmed the company was investigating one administrative worker and one nurse alleged to have made the inappropriate remarks on Facebook.
Disability rights activists have called for the immediate dismissal of the nurse who is alleged to have repeatedly referred to the people she assessed as "down and outs".
Sasha Callaghan from disability campaign group the Black Triangle said: "This just goes to show how the assessment regime [at Atos] has managed to thoroughly de-sensitise those who work in it from the consequences of their actions."
In a written statement Atos said: "Atos Healthcare is committed to providing a high quality, professional service to the DWP and expects the same of all its employees. Where it is found that these standards are not adhered to, this is taken very seriously and appropriate disciplinary action taken."
In November 2010 Computer Weekly's Inside Outsourcing blog reported that disability rights campaigners believed many people have wrongly had their benefits cut because of the system that Atos uses when assessing them.