Thursday, July 28, 2005

An article about a blogger


It's via National Review, which for those of you who do not know, is a conservative magazine. But their blog The Corner regularly links to articles and websites from both sides, and both the blog and the rest of the website often talk about non-political stuff. This article, for example, is about a blogger who (surprise, surprise) lost her job for blogging about work.

The article is entertaining, but it raises an interesting question: do you think employers are out of line for firing indiscriminate blogging employees, or are they doing the right thing?


Kim Plaintive said...

I think it's out of line for them to can you, unless you are saying slanderous things and using people's full names and stuff. But this Jolie chick isn't the first one who's been fired for blogging, so obviously it's something to be careful of.

Also, if you signed any kind of confidentiality paperwork (like I did at my old company), they have every right to fire you. It still sucks, but I wouldn't balk at that.

NYgirl said...

I've always wondered about that.

Since you're in law school: if you haven't singed a confidentiality agreement & if you did not blog on company time or use company equipment for it, isn't fireing for blogging a violation of the first amendment?

JLR said...

nygirl: Well, I aced both of the con law classes that I took, but I don't consider myself a scholar on the subject. That being said, no, that's a common misconception. The first amendment only applies to the government. If the government restricts your speech, it's a potential first amendment violation. There are exceptions, but you almost certainly first have to find that although it looks like private action, it's really state action.

That's why it was so comical to me back when the celebs were protesting the war and then companies were dropping them as spokespersons (spokespeople?), and hollywood started saying it was a first amendment violation. It may have been misguided or even wrong for them to have done it (I don't happen to think so--if my spokeperson is suddenly very unpopular, she's not going to do me much good as a spokesperson), but it was no first amendment violation.

So unless it's the government doing the firing, this is just a moral/ethical issue. That's what makes it so interesting--this is a new issue that our generation gets to address.

Ben said...

Out of line. without question.

JLR said...

See, I don't know if I agree. Wait, don't start throwing things at me yet! I haven't really made up my mind on this one. But I do think that there are times when a company would have every right to fire you, like the example that Kim gave. And that Jolie women in the article--she made her company look really, really bad, which could make them doubt her loyalty and make them wonder how far that disloyalty would go. Also, if someone's blogging opened the company up to possible liability (and I don't mean because the person exposed some illegal activity--for example, what if someone decided to sue the magazine for false advertising? It would be a stupid lawsuit, but there are lots of those out there). So I'm thinking that there are times when it's appropriate, and in those circumstances we shouldn't make those bloggers out to be heroes for getting fired. On the other hand, companies shouldn't be able to just say that you can't blog about your job. It's an interesting issue.