Blogging guidelines for employees: A necessity in the workplace (Guest commentary)

Preventive measures eliminate the need for ‘doocing’
By Lisa De Piante
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 04/17/2007

By now, most employers know a “blog” is a regularly updated online journal of information and opinions and some employers know that the term “dooced” refers to being terminated for inappropriate blogging about the workplace. But few employers understand how to deal with the potential legal risks of employees blogging on the job. These risks include harassment, disclosure of confidential information, disparagement and privacy issues.

Exposure to these risks is rapidly increasing, given the growing popularity of blogging. According to an article released in 2006 on Forbes.com, as much as five per cent of the American workforce maintains personal Internet diaries, 16 per cent of whom have posted information that could be considered negative or critical regarding their employer, supervisor, co-workers, customers or clients. However, only 15 per cent of employers have put specific policies in place to address work-related blogging.

Although to date there have been no reported court cases dealing with a “dooced” employee, almost everyone is familiar with clashes between workers and management at companies such as Google, Delta Airlines, Microsoft and Friendster. Each of these companies has dealt with very public employee terminations as a result of employees posting inappropriate content and disparaging remarks on the Internet. In an effort to prevent such issues and manage employee blogging, employers effectively have two choices: ban all blogging at the workplace or create and enforce a clear policy with respect to the use of blogs by employees. Given that the former option is difficult to monitor, most employers opt for the latter.