Bookshop worker first to be sacked over internet 'blog'
AN EMPLOYEE of the book chain Waterstone’s has become the first person in Britain to lose his job after using an online diary to let off steam about his working life.
"Blogging" - an increasingly popular internet pursuit - allows people to set up their own website to discuss a range of subjects, sometimes personal, which other users can log on to.
Joe Gordon lost his 12,000-a-year job as a senior bookseller with Waterstone’s in Edinburgh for bringing the company into disrepute after his blog made satirical remarks about his working life.
He had been employed at the Princes Street East End branch for 11 years but incurred the wrath of his employers after referring to the company as "Bastardstone’s" and one of his managers as "Evil Boss".
According to the TUC, this is the first case of its kind in Britain, but in the United States last November an airline attendant calling herself Queen of the Sky was fired over "inappropriate images" on her anonymous blog.
Mr Gordon, 37, said the firm had overreacted to a website he was operating outside company hours and his dismissal had worrying implications for freedom of speech.
He said: "It is ironic that I have written stories on my website for years on subjects such as Iraq, yet I get sacked over writing about my own job.
"Blogging allows you to vent steam about a bad day at work in a healthy way rather than doing it at work. There was no direct reference to anyone in the company and it took place outside working hours.
"Surely the best way forward would have been for one of my bosses to have had a quiet word that some of the content might reflect badly on Waterstone’s and I would have been happy to stop it."
He went on: "Does this mean that if someone moans about their work in the pub one evening, they can be sacked? It is rather Orwellian and has implications for freedom of expression that a bookstore like Waterstone’s should be uncomfortable with."
Mr Gordon has been running his online satirical newsletter, Woolamaloo Gazette, since 1992. He was dismissed last week after a disciplinary hearing.
A spokesman for Waterstone’s said: "It is still an ongoing disciplinary procedure and the employee still has two rights of appeal. We cannot comment at this stage."
Hannah Reed, a TUC senior employment rights officer, said: "I am not aware of any cases of its kind in Britain, although it has happened in the US.
"The law is complicated, but our rule of thumb would be that what an individual does in their private life is up to them as long as it does not impact on their ability to do their job properly.
"Because these remarks were not made in a pub but were actually published on a website, it does make it harder for the individual to win an unfair dismissal case, but people do have a right to freedom of expression. This scenario has not been tested in the courts before.
"If employers take a sensible approach, then their staff will feel happier rather than being snooped on. This could be the first of several similar such cases in this country and is a situation we will be closely monitoring."
How blogging can get you dooced
THE term "blog", which entered the Oxford English Dictionary last year, is a shortened form of "weblog".
A blog is a document containing personal comments and observations, often in the form of a journal, that is posted on the internet. Little technical skill is required to do this.
Blogs typically reflect the personality of their owner and can include a mixture of diary, bookmark list, and interactivity.
It is this personal touch that make them popular sites to visit. But using a blog as an outlet to moan about work clearly has its pitfalls. A new term has emerged as a result. According to UrbanDictionary.com to be "dooced" means to lose your job over something written on a website or online blog.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 4 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North east