warning: blogging can get you fired


  • 14 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Geez, there is a cautionary tale. I wonder if the firing boss had any qualms about firing, or googling employees to see what is out there.
  • [QUOTE=Carolil;719779]Geez, there is a cautionary tale. I wonder if the firing boss had any qualms about firing, or googling employees to see what is out there.[/QUOTE]

    It's definitely a tough situation - a few months ago, we terminated an employee for performance reasons. A week or so after the termination discussion, she all the sudden brought up some harassment issues and started threatening legal action - it was a nightmare.

    The kicker is, if we had just googled her (which we did after termination), we would have learned that she sued her two most recent employers for the same sort of thing...I think that at times, you can make a case for "googling" an applicant, the question is, what do you do with that information, especially if it could get you into hot water when it comes to pre-employment discrimination or protected activities? Had we known about the prior lawsuits, we probably wouldn't have hired the woman, but that's not necessarily the "right" thing to do....how's that for a sticky wicket?
  • I am suprised by this. As much as I use Facebook to communicate with employees I steer away from "searching" for information on them. If something is presented to me or is unavoidable I would deal with that but that is very rare.

    I used to play alot of paintball and I wrote articles for a couple national magazines and websites. If you google my name some of my articles come up along with paintball photos. Taken out of context, you might think I was in some right wing militia.

    Unless there is a direct connection to the individual's job performance, I dont see how an employer fires an employee for their private online activity.

    At the very least, I think this blogger should have been contacted about the situation and given the opportunity to remedy it.

    Think about Frank. How many jokes are on this forum about Frank's lack of pants? What if a potential employer were to view this forum? Sure, its all true and accurate and FUTURE EMPLOYERS OF FRANK NEED MAY WANT TO BE AWARE OF HIS ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLE but is that fair to Frank?
  • They'd figure it out 10 seconds into the first interview, Paul.
  • Paul: It does seem like a knee jerk reaction, but since I haven't read the blog it is really hard to say. This was a brand new employee, and they may have wondered what they had gotten themselves into. In fact, they may have been looking for a good reason to term.

    I am not sure what choice would have been correct. What if you talk to the employee and they take down the website only to sue you later because you let someone else keep theirs and they interpret it as some kind of discrimination (and can't that happen now anyway)? What if you didn't look but it became a small scandal and you lost clients because of it (what if you gained some)? This is one where you really need all the facts, including details about how the company presents itself to its stakeholders.
  • I wonder when we will see our first employment case where someone was fired for behavior in a virtual world like "Second Life" or World Of Warcraft.

    There are probably already employers who have been affected by the intense popularity (addiction) of these sites. I could easily envision employees requesting time off or missing work because of their virtual life online.
  • Next thing you know Jim-Bob requests military leave so he can be a soldier on World of Warcraft online? Interesting.
  • Sharon, we aren't soldiers in World of Warcraft, we are adventurers!

    Uh oh. I think I just said too much!

    I will confess that I have actually taken time off for special game-related events, but I took vacation time and even told everyone I was doing so for game-related stuff. To me it was no different than taking a few days off to go to a sports event, concert, wine tour, or on a family trip.

    In related news, apparently May 31 has now been labeled "Quit Facebook Day" in the wake of recent privacy concerns. Personally I find it amusing that there are some people who are naive enough to think that it's only the advent of social media that has made their online lives discoverable by employers, parents, etc., and that quitting Facebook will put them back in control. If an employee is posting things on Facebook that would make him or her feel vulnerable in the event of hacking, privacy invasion, identity theft, etc., then that's an underlying issue that deleting one's Facebook isn't likely to fix. If you wouldn't want your mom or your boss to know about it, don't put it on the Internet.

  • This morning John Phillips has commented on the latest firing (NC waitress) at [url]http://bit.ly/cd0XCe[/url]
  • The thing employees need to remember is "how would you feel if your employer posted "wow... Joe is a horrible employee.. totally useless!" on the company Facebook page?

    We all know the answer. The employee would be outraged! Yet employees think its perfectly acceptable to badmouth their employer online.

    Recently we had an employee leave us. He posted something about being excited to leave and start a new job. Nothing bad about that. His friends, however, posted some stupid stuff so I contacted him and just asked him to be careful what he said at work and online. He removed the thread (although I didnt ask him too).

    As an employer, these are no-win scenarios. If you jump into the fray you may very well make the situation worse and embolden your critics. Simply ignoring the comments may not feel good but it may be the best route. If your company has a good reputation overall a few gripes on Facebook aren't going to have any lasting damage.
  • Good analogy, Paul. I did have a member of management here tweet about a "clueless" VP last year. I let him know that the VP had a Twitter account, and while the VP had not tweeted even once, that wasn't a guarantee that he wasn't reading others' tweets. I don't think he's repeated the mistake...
  • You can set up Google to search the web for specific terms like "Your Name" or "your company" and e-mail you a report anytime something is mentioned online that matches your terms.

    But before you do this, heed Ecclesiastes 7:21 "Do not pay attention to everything other people say or you may hear your servant curse you."
  • I wrote a post about the woman fired for blogging from her non-profit job (the article Nae originally posted in this thread) on the Technology for HR Blog. You can read it at [URL]http://bit.ly/bzLh3P[/URL]

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