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Miller Canfield, ELA National Survey Finds Few Employers are Prepared for the Impact of Blogging

February 6, 2006

Web blogs are booming, but the latest survey conducted by the Employment Law Alliance, the world’s largest network of employment and labor lawyers to which Miller Canfield belongs as the state representative, is reporting that only about 15% of employers have specific policies addressing work-related blogging.

It is estimated that as many as 5% of the American work force – millions of workers – are maintaining online personal diaries called blogs.

“While employee-bloggers have some legal protection, blogs create substantial new issues for employers,” said Kurt Sherwood, labor and employment attorney at Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C. “It is the latest, complex workplace concern – beyond camera cell phones and employees downloading illegal music.”

These expressions of one’s views in cyberspace could affect overall employee morale, lead to a public boycott, or generate lawsuits against a company.

“A well-designed company policy on blogging will help protect an employer,” said Sherwood. “Address issues such as disclosure of trade secret or nonpublic information, liability for defamation, intellectual property rights, and grounds to terminate.”

The ELA telephone poll of 1,000 adults, with a confidence interval of +/- 4%, was conducted over the weekend of January 22, 2006. It revealed that:

• 59% of employees believe employers should be allowed to discipline or terminate workers who post confidential or proprietary information concerning the employer


• 55% think employers should be allowed to discipline or terminate employees who post damaging, embarrassing, negative information about the employer


• 23% support fellow workers being free to post criticism or satire about employers, co-workers, supervisors, customers, or clients without fear of discipline

Of the employees polled who work for a company with a blogging policy:

• 62% say the policy prohibits posting any employer-related information

• 60% say the policy discourages employees from criticizing or making negative comments against the employer

• 58% say the regulations deal with all blogging regardless of content.

Did you know? The practice of firing a worker for what is deemed inappropriate blogging even has its own name, doocing (named for a fired worker who maintains the www.dooce.com website).

The Employment Law Alliance is the world’s largest integrated, global practice network comprised of independent law firms distinguished for their practice in employment and labor law. Miller Canfield is the ELA representative for the state of Michigan. For further information, including access to the survey charts and graphs, visit www.employmentlawalliance.com.

The 350-attorney law firm of Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C. was established in Detroit in 1852 and has offices in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Howell, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Monroe, Saginaw, and Troy, Michigan. Other offices are located in New York City, Pensacola, Florida, Windsor, Ontario, and in Gdynia, Warsaw, and Wroclaw, Poland.

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