Want to blast your employer? Here's how to do it and not get caught! ;)

April 10, 2005

I’m still very much of the opinion that personal blogs and corporations can learn to live together, but if you must have an anonymous blog, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has a guide for blogging anonymously. They’ve got quite a few good tips in there, especially things like whistle blowing and sharing political opinions. I thought the following excerpt was especially interesting:

Some states have laws that may protect an employee or applicant’s legal off-duty blogging, especially if the employer has no policy or an unreasonably restrictive policy with regard to off-duty speech activities. For example, California has a law protecting employees from “demotion, suspension, or discharge from employment for lawful conduct occurring during nonworking hours away from the employer’s premises.” These laws have not been tested in a blogging context. If you are terminated for blogging while off-duty, you should contact an employment attorney to see what rights you may have.

Obviously, blogging during personal time is lawful conduct (assuming that you don’t violate confidentiality agreements and the such). Sharing your opinions and experiences is also lawful conduct. Thus, can a company demote, suspend or discharge an employee for blogging during non-work hours? Hmm… I wonder if/when this stuff will get challenged in court.

I mean, think about Niall Kennedy’s recent episode. Technically, he was blogging during non-work hours and sharing the content he did is completely legal. Would it be unlawful for Technorati to have reprimanded Niall?

As for me, I was content to just let it pass. I’m not one for getting involved in long, drawn out, legal battles. And besides, my incident put me in touch with a lot of cool people, I was quickly educated about the up and coming world of blogging, and to top it all off, I found an awesome job in short time.

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No Responses Yet to “Want to blast your employer? Here's how to do it and not get caught! ;)”

  1. ddouglas Says:

    i think that a little common sense can go a very long way in regards to employee blogging. anything that is confidential, controversial or potentially embarassing to the employer shoudn’t be blogged about by an employee if the employee wants to keep her job. when in doubt, such an employee should probably refrain from blogging about it.

  2. markjen Says:

    ddouglas – It would definitely be prudent to refrain from blasting one’s employer. However, it is not illegal to decide to exercise your freedom of speech and blog about it.

    Based on my reading of EFF’s how-to, it seems that it would be illegal for an employer to take action against an employee if such a situation unfolded.

    I’m not condoning people blasting their employers, I’m merely saying that it seems that perhaps employees have a little more protection than commonly thought…

  3. Taliesin Says:

    I disagree, the article points out that the employee in the hypothetical “situation” is in extremely murky, untested waters.

    Who would want to be the test case?

  4. markjen Says:

    Taliesin – You’re right in that the EFF’s article doesn’t actually say an employee is protected. I was saying that my reading of the excerpt of California law in the article makes me think that the employee has some rights. I’m sure someone will test the waters sooner or later, we’ll just have to see who/when…

  5. ddouglas Says:

    markjen — based on my reading of the eff blogging guide, 1st amendment protection is afforded to only federal employees. the guide goes on to say that in regards to other employees, the law is untested as it applies to legal off-duty blogging in the absence of employer policy. therefore, i’m sticking to the suggestion noted in my original comment as it applies to non-federal employees.


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