This is, I believe, the first public domain glimpse of a growing problem to come.
Airline Stewardess, Ellen Simonetti, runs a blog called ’Queen of Sky‘ wherein she posts interesting bon mots about her life as jet-setting airline attendant.
All was seemingly going well, until Ms. Simonetti posted up a slightly frisky photograph of herself on her blog in her company uniform. Her employers were not amused:
Queen of the Sky, otherwise known as Ellen Simonetti, evolved into an anonymous semi-fictional account of life in the sky.
But after she posted pictures of herself in uniform, Delta Airlines suspended her indefinitely without pay.
Ms Simonetti was told her suspension was a result of “inappropriate” images. Delta Airlines declined to comment.
Oh dear. Says Ms. Simonetti:
“I never meant it as something to harm my company and don’t understand how they think it did harm them,”
It appears as if Ms Simonetti was entirely unaware that the company had any policy on these matters and, consequently, she posted her photograph in good faith. Borrowing from the movie “Cool Hand Luke”, what we have here is a ‘failure to communicate’.
Now Ms. Simonetti is an American and her employer is a US Company but if this incident were to occur in the UK then Ms. Simonetti might well have a decent claim for unfair dismissal on the basis that her employer did not take steps to advise clearly of the company policy on these matters.
It would probably be a fair bet that very few employers have any policy at all on employee bloggers because blogging itself has yet to the flood the plain of commercial consciousness. But that is all changing, and as much as I am loath to heap yet more responsibilities onto the shoulders of already overburdended employers, this is a problem that they are going to have to address and soon.
So if you are an employer, and you think your employees may be blogging (even in their own time) start devising a policy on what is and is not acceptable to publish and then make that policy clearly known to your employees. It may save a lot of tears and heartache (and legal fees) later.