Network - Winter 2010 - (Page 12)
Misconduct in the Blogosphere reputation of the employer and its employees; or • Interferes with the employer’s ability to efficiently manage work and direct its workforce, the employer can take action to curtail the employee’s activities. As was succinctly put by the B.C. Labour Relations Board in a 2008 decision involving E.V. Logistics – “While the employer is not the custodian of the (employee’s) character or personal conduct, his conduct may be a disciplinary concern to the employer if it adversely impacts on the legitimate business interests of the employer.” A recent decision involving the Alberta Government serves as a good example of how an employee’s blogging can justify employer intervention. The Government terminated an employee for her inappropriate blog content, and its decision was upheld by both an arbitration board and the Court of Queen’s Bench. Comments on the blogs were related to the employee’s co-workers’ age, memory, sexuality, competency, frugality, pretensions and other personality traits. The blogs also reproduced an With the increased use of blogs and online social networking tools, employers are justifiably becoming increasingly concerned with the content of employees’ posts. What can an employer do when an employee posts negative comments about his employer or ridicules coworkers or managers? Although the technology is relatively new, the relevant applicable employment principles are not. Of course, employees can be disciplined if they spend inordinate amounts of time online for personal reasons when they should be working. However, online misconduct of an employee can be grounds for discipline or termination, even when it does not occur during work hours. If an employee’s off-duty conduct: • Harms the employer’s reputation or product; • Renders an employee unable to perform his duties satisfactorily; • Leads to a refusal, reluctance or inability of other employees to work with him; • Is a breach of the Criminal Code and therefore injures the general e-mail from a supervisor adding editorial comments which suggested that management was staffed by “imbeciles and idiot savants.” Other employer e-mails were reproduced, along with sarcastic commentaries. The employee referred to the work environment as a “lunatic asylum” and two of her supervisors were given insulting pseudonyms. Co-workers became upset that they were the subject of unflattering public commentary and management became concerned about the impact on employees and the work environment. Further, they were concerned about the disclosure of confidential information through the reproduced e-mails. When interviewed about her blog, the employee exhibited little understanding about the concerns which were raised by management and was not remorseful. The arbitration board ruled “While the (employee) has a right to create personal blogs and is entitled to her opinions about the people with whom she works, publicly displaying those opinions may have consequences within an employment relationship. The Board is satisfied that the (employee), in expressing contempt for her managers, ridiculing NETWORK Winter 2009
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Network - Winter 2010
Network - Winter 2010
HRIA President’s Message
HRIA’s 2010 Board of Directors
Celebrating Excellence Awards
Recognizing Excellence in HR
Misconduct in the Blogosphere
Social Networking: What is Private and What is Professional?
Monitoring Online Behaviour of Employees
Privacy Legislation Impacts Talent-Management Programs, Too!
Breaching Privacy More Than a Legal Concern
Drug and Alcohol Testing: A Divided Nation?
Personal Information Protection Act
Index of Advertisers
Network - Winter 2010