A good article in The Lawyer’s Weekly about someone getting dooced in Alberta. The short version: Woman blogs anonymously about her supervisors and co-workers, but in a way that makes all of them easily recognizable to anyone in her work place. Oh, and things she says aren’t exactly nice. Her employer fires her as a result. Goes to arbitration and the termination is upheld. Perhaps not all that suprising. Anyway, some thoughts and tips from the article:
Although the dismissal was upheld in Alberta Union, not all Web 2.0 posts that an employer finds distasteful will provide grounds for discipline or termination. Blogging or Facebooking at work is one thing, but the general rule regarding discipline for off-duty conduct is that an employer is not the custodian of their employees’ private lives. Exceptions are made when, as it was found in Alberta Union, the posts irreparably harm the employment relationship. This can include conduct that:
â€¢ prevents employees from performing their duties satisfactorily;
â€¢ interferes with employees’ ability to work effectively with fellow co-workers;
â€¢ breaks confidentiality policies or employees’ duty of fidelity to the employer;
â€¢ harasses or defames management or fellow employees;
â€¢ deliberately attempts to undermine management’s ability to direct its workforce;
â€¢ harms the company’s reputation (however, rank and file employees may be held to a lower standard than those employees who hold higher positions of trust or responsibility).
Counsel should encourage employers to take measures to prevent the sort of conduct that attracts discipline in the first place. Having a discussion with employees is a good start. The general tenor of blogs and social networking sites is akin to casual conversation, and, naturally, many people will talk about work.
Unfortunately, as Alberta Union illustrates, many employees are unaware Web 2.0 conduct can affect their careers and attract legitimate sanction. Pointing this out to employees can save both the employer and the employee a lot of grief.