If employers needed proof that blogging has become a workplace issue, they had it long ago: in 2002, the term “dooced” was coined for “being fired for one’s website”. A blogger was fired for writing about her job and colleagues on her blog, Dooce.com.
Ever since then, a tension has existed between the “freedom” of employees to do or say what they want on their own time – including online - and the employer’s right to require loyalty of all employees and to protect its business and reputation from damaging online comments. Not-forprofit and charitable organizations have a particular interest in protecting their online reputation, given the potential loss of donors and supporters due to negative publicity.
The legal issues facing employers, when their employees post online comments about their job, coworkers or the employer, include confidentiality of the employer’s information; loss of reputation of the employer or other employees; workplace harassment or discrimination flowing from online comments; criminal charges (such as hate speech); and “stealing time” by blogging or updating a Facebook page at work.
Case Examples: Firing for Online Postings
Employees often argue that their online postings are “private” and should never be used by employers to fire them. Adjudicators have not accepted that argument: if the blog, Facebook or Twitter posting harms the employer’s business and is not “private”, employers may access the posting and, in appropriate cases, fire the employee...
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