Bagged for Blogging?

this is about getting fired for keeping a blog

Woman to Women

Bagged for Blogging?

Keeping a blog can mean more than identifying you as a nerd

-Megan Southwick

woman screamingBecause I love you all so much, I’m going to let down my guard and let the nerd-dom shine through: I have a Livejournal. I’ve had it for about 6 years now. It doesn’t contain a simple deep thought and very few educational statements. No, no. My blog is the equivalent of a 9 year old’s glittery Hello Kitty monkey journal (with lock). And I talk about everything there, including my day job – which I do with complete freedom, whether the day was good or bad.

Even with all the security measures in place for my blog (it’s password protected, and only certain people can see it), I take a huge risk every time that I log on and blog from work – not only because I am using a company computer for personal purposes, but because I occasionally blog about my work in, well, not-so-glowing language, especially on those days when I’m living a real-life version of “Office Space.”

People everywhere (from Starbucks to Wells Fargo to Delta Airlines) are experiencing a backlash from employers for their blogs – even for blogs that are written on personal time, using personal computers.

If you are a blogger, even just the type who posts pictures to share with family, there are a few things you need to know to protect yourself:

1. Know your company’s policy on blogging. Before even taking the job, find out where they stand. Some companies don’t care, some care a LOT and some only care if your blog is in conflict with the company’s best interests. Either way, it’s in YOUR best interests to find out.

2. Use personal equipment and personal time. Any time you use up company time or company equipment, you are using their resources – which is a violation of almost every company’s policy, and official grounds for termination.

3. Avoid revealing sensitive information that might benefit competitors. Chances are, you signed a non-compete agreement when you started your job, so blogging about anything even remotely related to your company may fall under the scope of that agreement – in which case, your employer can fire you immediately.

4. Watch what you say. This should go without saying, but in some cases, the First Amendment won’t save you from an employer trying to fire you for blogging. Writing negatively about co-workers or fellow employees, racist or bigoted comments and sexist or sexual commentary can all get you in trouble – even if you think it comes across as an obvious joke.

5. Do not ever ever EVER blog about company secrets, even if you perceive them as harmless. Even something as small as a potential new hire can reveal more about the company than the owners would like to – and can get you fired in short order.

All that said, if you are a blogger, like me, there are a few resources you should check out (heck, even go a little crazy and bookmark ‘em!). My favorite is the Electronic Career Foundation which works to protect the rights of bloggers, among others.

Until all this stuff is settled, I’m limiting my blogging time to home time – what about you? 

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