Can My Blog Get Me Fired?

Dear DW,

Like many people out there, I have a blog in which I write about things like my hobbies, favorite movies, political views, friends, and family—basically, my life. But a lot of my life takes place at work. So what is considered acceptable to write about regarding office life—and what postings could get me canned?

Signed,
Cautious Blogger

Dear Blogger,
Your company shouldn’t have any problem with you raving about your rose garden or favorite reality TV show. But posting pictures of yourself at work, dishing secrets about your co-workers, or bad-mouthing your bosses could get you into hot water. Employers don’t like it when workers dish dirt about their jobs, and companies like Southwest Airlines and Starbucks have reportedly fired employees for complaining about their company on their personal blogs.

So what are grounds for termination? “If you’re disclosing confidential information or competitive secrets, or it’s cutting into your work hours, the company is within its rights to fire you,” says Susan Heathfield, a human resources consultant who blogs about the topic for About.com

To make sure your blog doesn’t get you called into the boss’s office, know where your company stands on the matter. Ask if there is an established policy. Are certain topics off limits? Is it okay to mention your employer? And of course, don’t blog during work hours and don’t use your work computer.

Use good judgment when it comes to mentioning your workplace: unlike a casual conversation with a trusted friend, once you launch an opinion into cyberspace, anyone can access it. Lastly, you need to assume your employer is checking out your blog. Use discretion: you may want to remove those embarrassing photos of your most recent night on the town. DW

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