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Problems in Keeping Employees from Blogging

Highwire walkerAlthough I posted the conversation with attorney Robert Clothier about some of the legal considerations of blogging, his was a view through the eyes of media law. There's also a whole other way of looking at blogging when it comes to corporations. Labor and employment lawyer Devjani Mishra, a partner with Seyfarth Shaw LLP, was on the road ane unable to talk, but she did email some comments.

At first she noted that blogging, social networking, and other forms of communications can present a number of problems, including liability for discrimination, defamation, and intellectual property infringement, even if the employee is not aware of the problem. As Clothier pointed out, employees who blog on their own time, using their own equipment, might not legally involve the employer in the activities. But there are many companies that do have employees blog as part of their job descriptions.

Stopping employees from blogging might seem like the safe approach, but that can open a company to liabilities and dangers from other quarters, including:

  • anti-retaliation law
  • whistleblower protections in Sarbanes-Oxley and other legislation
  • curtailing activity considered protected under the National Labor Relations Act
  • privacy and wiretapping statutes
  • state statutes protecting activities on employee personal time
In other words, there are many more ways a company can run off the rails when it comes to trying to rein in employee activities. Don't cross boundaries that could prove dangerous and expensive.

Balancing act image via Flickr user _gee_, CC 2.0.