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

Preventive measures eliminate the need for ‘doocing’

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, 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.

The article suggested blogging policies should contain at least the following provisions:

•blogging may not be done on company time or with the use of company computers;

•bloggers must comply with all of the company’s policies, including, but not limited to, the code of conduct and the discrimination and harassment policies;

•blogs are individual interactions, not corporate communications, and employees must not represent or imply that they are expressing the opinion of the company;

•bloggers are personally responsible for the content of their blogs;

•bloggers must never disclose any confidential or proprietary information concerning the company; and

•bloggers should respect themselves, their co-workers and their company. They should not put anything on the blog that will embarrass, insult, demean or damage the reputation of the company, its products, customers or any of its employees.

Not only is it important to implement policies incorporating such guidelines, appropriate employee training must also be provided. Employees should be made aware of the existence and content of these policies and their obligations to uphold the employer’s reputation, refrain from posting disparaging remarks, maintain a harassment-free blog and ensure an employer’s confidential information is kept secure.

Lisa De Piante is an associate with Stikeman Elliott in Toronto who practices in the firm’s employment, labour and pension group. She can be reached at (416) 869-5673 or [email protected].

To read the full story, login below.

Not a subscriber?

Start your subscription today!