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French justice and La Petite Anglaise

I remember the shockwaves that went through blogosphere when La Petite Anglaise was fired by her Paris-based accountancy firm for writing her blog at work.  Sacré bleu, how many other bloggers would be sacked for doing the same thing?

However, French justice has reigned supreme and le blog celebre has won an industrial tribunal case, awarding bi-lingual secretary Catherine Sanderson a year’s salary, plus costs, after agreeing there was no evidence to prove she had brought disrepute to the company.

La Petite Anglaise, who has since signed a generous book deal, describes her test-case tribunal ordeal:

“No-one is saying that I did a bad job. No-one is saying I was guilty of absenteeism or slacked off or exhibited any sort of disloyal behaviour in the office. My actual performance in my job as secretary to a partner seems to be a moot point. I was fired because when my blog was discovered (or rather its existence reported to my boss by someone who worked with me) my employer read that I sometimes blogged from work, when I had nothing better to do. That a passage about meeting my lover in a hotel implied that I might have lied about my whereabouts on two half days, a year previously. That by blogging about work at all (however rarely I actually did this, and regardless of the fact that I did so under the cloak of anonymity) I was being disloyal to my employer and putting the reputation of the firm at risk.

“The masterstroke at the end was when my ex-employer’s lawyer congratulated me on my book deal, prompting raised eyebrows from all present. The implication being that because I haven’t suffered enough as a result of my sacking, that makes everything alright. Let’s just gloss over those five months which intervened between my sacking and the deal, shall we? The ten kilos I lost through worry. The sleepless nights and constant crying. The apartment purchase which almost fell through. It doesn’t matter if I was wrongfully dismissed or not. Who needs principles when they have something else to fall back on?

“Which rather begs the question: if I’d been burgled, but won the lottery the following day, should the thief have been let off scott free because I could afford to replace everything?”

It doesn’t seem that the Paris firm offered warnings or followed any disciplinary proceeding, they just fired her on the spot, which seems very harsh. All legal cases require evidence to back up their claims, which were lacking in this case.

Have you been caught blogging at work, does it worry you that you could get fired for it? That’s what happened to this chap who worked for Waterstone’s in Edinburgh. And if you do find yourself in a tricky spot, these are your rights if you get sacked for blogging. We can’t all hope for a lucrative book deal.


16 Comments

  1. I blog from work all the time because my computer is faster, I find it relaxing and in fact I can “multi task” whilst at it…

    but then the only person who could sack me is.. me! :o)

  2. Hah!
    They didn’t sack me!
    They gave me a pay rise!

    Maybe that is unrelated to blogging at work, but it least it shows they are indifferent…

  3. I blog in my own company and that of my two cats!

    I can’t be fired! 😉

  4. I’m lucky enough to be able to arrange my schedule myself so far and so the question does not arise, except for time considerations.

  5. Good for her! I don’t think I’d last long trying to write my Journal at the office!

  6. In a university, blogging would masquerade as “academic freedom”. That marking can always be done this evening (as usual 😉

    Nice about the Goshawk, this is the best time to see them when they are performing their aerial displays.

  7. That’s a good point that LPA makes at the end but I can’t see what she’s moaning about now, either!

  8. Good advice, Ellee.
    I won’t.

  9. Joe, Glad to hear it, now please don’t go and get sacked just to prove a point.

  10. Still at work. Not sacked yet.
    Obviously not trying hard enough.

  11. Q9, Don’t the French turn a blind eye to these afternoon recreational pursuits?

  12. Well at the risk of sounding politically incorrect, I’d say losing ten kilos (20 lbs) done her a world of good
    And she got a book deal, what she crying about?

    Lying to her boss to get two afternoons off for nookie in a hotel – and getting found out?

    Elle, You condone blogging from work? knowing how addictive it can be, you know a minute can turn to half hour, you know – a bit like using the work phone for gossiping with friends et al

    Most firms have restrictions on internet surfing – outside ‘lunch breaks’

  13. There are more cases of bloggers being fired. See here.

  14. Let’s try this out.
    I’m at work now.

    No. seems OK.

  15. electro-kevin

    In ‘meat world’: how would you feel if you’d hired a builder and found him blogging on his laptop instead of laying bricks ?

    There are obvious reasons why I would be sacked immediately for blogging at work – well I am a train driver, after all !

    I suppose that things are different in ‘brain world’ and that blogging (depending on the nature of it) might even be beneficial for the employer. I suppose that LPA (later a published author)was quite a prolific writer and that this may well have impinged on her work.

  16. Hi Ellee, I suppose one could argue that this is another fine example of French employment laws. The same ones that discriminate against young people,immigrants and entrprenuership. Hardly surprising that there’s over 20000 young French people seeking gainful employment in London.

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