Sunday, January 16, 2005

Think before you post your blog entry

A bookshop owner in Scotland (not England) has lost his job over what he posted on his blog. He used to post his problems at the workplace. He once referred to his "Evil Boss", he twisted his store's name in an inappropriate way, and complained that he did not get an off for his birthday. He was sacked.

Don't think being anonymous can be safe. Last year an airline worker in the US was sacked for "inappropriate images" of her on her anonymous blog.

In a high-profile case, a Croatian diplomat in Washington was fired in November last year, for writing on his blog that diplomatic meetings are boring, and that there is no difference between George Bush and John Kerry.

  • My blog posting on Croatian diplomat sacked


  • Internet warning after blog sacking (From The Scotsman)


    PEOPLE who post their observations on the internet were today (on Jan 12) warned to watch what they write after an Edinburgh bookshop worker became the first person in Britain to be sacked over his "blog" entries.

    Joe Gordon, an employee at Waterstone’s store at the East End of Princes Street for 11 years, occasionally used his weblog to sound off about bad days at work.

    He referred to "Bastardstone’s" and his "Evil Boss" and complained about not getting a day off for his birthday.

    He said he was dismissed from his £12,000-a-year job without warning for gross misconduct and bringing the company into disrepute - even though he was ready to agree to stop referring to Waterstone’s in his blogs.

    An airline attendant in America was sacked last year for "inappropriate images" on her anonymous blog. But the TUC said Mr Gordon’s was the first blog sacking case in this country.

    And today Campbell Deane, a partner of the law firm Bannatyne, Kirkwood, France, said other bloggers should beware.

    "People should remember that there is no separate law for the internet. Just because what you write appears on the internet rather than in print does not give you any greater rights."

    Mr Gordon, 37, said the firm had over-reacted. "This wasn’t a sustained attack. I was not deliberately trying to harm the company. I was venting my spleen," he said. "I wasn’t libelling anyone or giving away trade secrets.

    "Blogging allows you to vent steam about a bad day at work in a healthy way rather than doing it at work. There was no direct reference to anyone in the company and it took place outside working hours."

    And Mr Gordon claimed his sacking raised questions about freedom of expression. "The book trade can only exist with freedom of speech and information." He added: "It is a big personal blow to me to lose my job and it also has grave implications beyond that - for anyone who works for any company and blogs, which is thousands of people."

    Mr Gordon has been running his online satirical newsletter, Woolamaloo Gazette, since 1992, the year before he began working for Waterstone’s.
    The Retail Books Association, which represents 6000 people in the book trade, said it would help Mr Gordon appeal against his dismissal.

    A spokesman for Waterstone’s said the company could not comment because there was an ongoing disciplinary procedure and Mr Gordon still had two rights of appeal.

    Worker sacked over blog comments (From BBC)

    An Edinburgh man has lost his job over comments made about his employer in an online diary, or "blog". Bookseller Joe Gordon, 37, had worked for Waterstone's book chain for 11 years and was based at its Princes Street store.

    In his blog, the Woolamaloo Gazette, Mr Gordon said he was dismissed for gross misconduct after the firm said his writings had brought it into disrepute.
    Waterstone's said Mr Gordon would have two opportunities to appeal.
    A spokeswoman added that she could not comment further as it was an ongoing disciplinary matter.

    Mr Gordon wrote that he was called into his manager's office shortly before Christmas and told he was the subject of an inquiry into whether he should face a disciplinary hearing over comments posted on his blog. "I was informed (more than once) that this could cause my dismissal. "I was suspended on pay and escorted from the premises of the bookstore I had worked in for eleven years."
    He said the disciplinary hearing took place on 5 January and he was dismissed.
    'Evil boss'

    Mr Gordon went on to say that he would occasionally mention his work life online, coining phrases such as "Bastardstone's" and referring to his manager as "Evil Boss". "I pointed out that I had not set out to deliberately ruin the company's image. "In fact I don't think I have even inadvertently; if I had wished to do that then I would have been running less satirical and far more biting comments on a rather more regular basis, rather than commenting from time to time about a bad day at work, a grumpy manager or the like.

    "You'd think I had run a sustained propaganda campaign of subversion."
    Mr Gordon claimed his dismissal breached his right to free speech. He said that Waterstone's had no clear policy on blogging and had not accepted his offer to stop writing and accept a warning.


    1. Not "England" but Scotland; don't you know that Edinburgh is the capital city of this fine country? tut!tut!

    2. Sorry for the bloomer. I have corrected the mistake. Thanks!