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Heather Hamilton got fired
February 27, 2002 8:08 AM   Subscribe

Heather Hamilton got fired because of her blog. (NB: foul language a-go-go)
posted by silusGROK (159 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Active MetaTalk discussion on the very same subject.
posted by riffola at 8:14 AM on February 27, 2002


This happened to me a couple of years ago, although the weasels in charge wouldn't put it in writing that it was actually because of my blog. It was more general hard-to-get-along-with-ness. I was devastated at the time, furious, humiliated, you name it. The dorks at my former employers continued to monitor my website for ages, which is the main reason that my blog died.

Because Ohio is an employ-at-will state, like so many others, I had no recourse, even though I did not name my employers or the people who I was trashing (actually, telling the truth about, from my point of view and that of other co-workers). It didn't matter, I was out. Luckily, my contract gave me three months pay and I didn't have to work, because they wanted me out immediately. They did manage to defame me enough that I was unable to collect unemployment and at that point I was too tired of the whole thing to fight it.

I still get angry when I think about the whole situation, because I hate it when stupid weasels with big egos have any power over my life. On the up side, I went through some career counseling and decided to change careers, which may yet happen again. Getting fired cut me loose from a situation in which I was deeply unhappy. Which doesn't mean I am not still waiting for shit to start raining from the sky on those bastards, which should happen eventually, because they are incompetent twits. And I occasionally fight off the desire to have many pizzas delivered to certain homes.
posted by elgoose at 8:23 AM on February 27, 2002


I won't address whether the employer did the "right" or "moral" thing, but I can definitively answer whether it was "legal." In almost all states, a person can be fired for any reason or no reason at all (subject to a few exceptions -- the most noteworthy being that the reason can't be discrimination on the basis of a protected classification). As elgoose correctly notes, there's nothing she can do about it.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:33 AM on February 27, 2002


Wow, what a stunningly unhappy human being she is.
posted by Red58 at 8:37 AM on February 27, 2002


Here's something provocative:

Don't write in your blog what you wouldn't tell your coworkers to their face.
Think about it prople...
posted by dcgartn at 8:41 AM on February 27, 2002


I was thinking the same thing dcgartn... I thought it ironic that Heather Hamilton wanted the "motherfucker" that was being a "coward about it" when, in fact, she was writing about co-workers on the internet... tell it to their face for Christ's sake! (Not that that won't get you fired either but...)
posted by banished at 8:51 AM on February 27, 2002


Not suprised. I'd have fired her - she sounds like she hates the job.
posted by Spoon at 8:54 AM on February 27, 2002


Who cares about a dumb job? I'm just really sad she's getting married.
posted by dack at 9:01 AM on February 27, 2002


[I forgot to mention that the link was via DollarShort!]

Were I Heather's employer, her blog would give me serious pause.

But Heather makes my job easier by asking some questions that I'm happy to tackle here:

1. Should I lose my job over what I have written on my personal website, especially if I have made sure not to mention specific places, persons, or events by name?

As personal as her blog was (and man! was it personal), it was by no means private. And regardless of how careful she was not to mention her company, et cetera by name, her postings were still very much public... moreover, _she_ is a very real person, and making the connection would hardly be difficult.

2. At what point does my personal website, regardless of what I've published on the site, affect my professional life ... [w]ould it be any different if someone found a notepad on which I had scribbled things about my job and turned it in to my boss?

There is no such thing as a "personal" life and a "professional" one. No matter how duplicitous we are, we are (nevertheless!) a single person. Of course, duplicity used to be frowned upon... now it seems to be embraced as a by-product of the compartmentalized life.

As for the "diary/notepad" defense: a blog is not private, quite the contrary, and so Heather has no claim.

3. What recourse do I have?

Trial in the courts of public opinion seem to be her forte...

4. Does anyone have Nicole Kidman's phone number? I've suddenly got a lot of free time.

Sorry. I don't... but give me six degrees, and maybe I can get it.

; )

To summate: Heather misses the point entirely.

She was a horribly disaffected employee, which had to impact her ability to perform, the quality of her contribution, or her chemistry within a team setting.

Regardless of how an employer learns of an employee's disaffection, employer's have a duty (to the company, to the clients, et cetera) to consider letting that employee go.

I can only conclude (not really knowing the other side of the story) that Heather's other contributions apparently did not merit a second chance, and/or her employer did not see in Heather's vitriol any redeeming qualities: no reformist zeal, no righteous indignation.

So there you go.

Comments?
posted by silusGROK at 9:05 AM on February 27, 2002


So the right to hate my job is trumped by my companies right to have only happy little worker bees? What if I don’t tell anyone I hate my job?

Not naming names seems to me the responsible way for her to voice her opinion and not be liable.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 9:18 AM on February 27, 2002


Writing what she wrote was the equivalent of standing in the middle of her office and reading it in a very loud voice.

If you want to complain about your work place and or colleagues this is not the way to do it. Do you see?
posted by Spoon at 9:22 AM on February 27, 2002


I'm not going to get into what and who I think is right and wrong. I'll just say two things:

1. Heather Hamilton is a funny person and a talented writer. I've been reading the site for a while, and some of the things she says are comedic genius.

2. The anonymous person who ratted her out to management is a despicable, cowardly little prick. If the person were one of my friends, I'd have one less friend right about now.
posted by tomorama at 9:22 AM on February 27, 2002


Hugh2d2 :

So the right to hate my job is trumped by my companies right to have only happy little worker bees? What if I don’t tell anyone I hate my job?

No, no one's saying you don't have a right to hate your job, just that you don't have a right to keep your job. Your company, on the other hand, has the right to determine whether to continue paying you, and with a very few exceptions, that can be based on anything (including having only "happy little worker bees").

(after this I'm heading to MeTa)
posted by Sinner at 9:25 AM on February 27, 2002


Hugh2d2: That's not what I said. What I said was that she was horribly disaffected... and that she didn't appear to want to actually improve things at work, she just wanted to complain.

I don't mind it when my employees have grievences... I would just hope (and in some way expect) that they'd make the effort to be a problem solver.

Tomorama: Apparently, being a comedic genius didn't outweigh her negative contributions to the corporate culture.

Besides, who's more cowardly: the person who brought Heather's disaffection to the attention of the employer (regardless of the rat's intentions, I'd have to say that the outcome was probably beneficial), or Heather who says things in public that she apparently didn't have the guts to say (or otherwise address) in a more constructive manner?
posted by silusGROK at 9:29 AM on February 27, 2002


If Heather was discreet in what she wrote (and I believe she was: she didn't mention the company or co-workers by name) then what she wrote is her business. If she completed her work, she fulfilled her end of the bargain -- the company pays her for the work she does. I don't see how they can think they have any say in what she thinks.

That's my opinion, anyways. I realize that companies can choose to fire people at any time, for any reason. They also have an obligation to pay people appropriately. I hope she negotiated an appropriate severance package.

Heather, if you're reading this -- you should talk with a lawyer who specializes in labour issues. What have you got to lose?
posted by Badmichelle at 9:37 AM on February 27, 2002


There are three issues here, one of which isn't being talked about.

First, does she deserve to lose her job for a statement she made on her blog? I'm not sure but it does seem like a free speech issue.

Second, what kind of a cowardly person would anonymously tell her bosses about her post (well, there are quite a few I bet --but that's a thread about the wide breadth of humanity). Of course, maybe it was the object of her anger who told.

More important (and the one not being talked about) is #3: was the piece she wrote racist? It sure smacks of it. Racism is a very incindiary issue in American society.

Interestingly, this past Monday's episode of Boston Public (a Fox Network TV weekly dealing with [the not always real] issues in a public high school --for those in other parts of the world) dealt with the use of the word "Nigger" in the classroom. The issue on the show was: can a white teacher bring up the word for discussion in a class.

I think her characterization of the Asian programmer comes too close to that fine line that defines racism. And, it's quite possible that, despite what many feel was her right to state, her employer felt the same.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 9:38 AM on February 27, 2002


After reading through Heather's archive I am certain that she was fired for farting.
posted by DragonBoy at 9:40 AM on February 27, 2002


Besides, who's more cowardly: the person who brought Heather's disaffection to the attention of the employer (regardless of the rat's intentions, I'd have to say that the outcome was probably beneficial), or Heather who says things in public that she apparently didn't have the guts to say (or otherwise address) in a more constructive manner?

While I agree that Ms. Hamilton was foolish to post what she posted and that her employer likely had the right to terminate her employment, I see the moral question a bit differently. She was posting about anonymous people in an anonymous company and, presumably, she wasn't telling her coworkers that she was posting or where. And her name was on her comments. Her comments might have annoyed some people (who weren't, after all, supposed to see them), but what harm did they really do? I don't see it as particularly cowardly the way I would if she had posted an anonymous letter on the company bulletin board.

By contrast, the informer cost Ms. Hamilton her job and did it anonymously. That strikes me as substantially more cowardly and substantially more harmful.

It doesn't sound like she was much of a team player, and management was probably glad to have a reason to get rid of her. But if I were an executive, I'd have a policy of ignoring anonymous emails. She might not have much of a legal case, but then again, she might, and if she elects to pursue it, it's a huge headache for the company.
posted by anapestic at 9:44 AM on February 27, 2002


If she is anything in person like she writes in her blog (very negative), I am not suprised she was fired. They were probably looking for a excuse to let her go.
posted by internal at 9:46 AM on February 27, 2002


TOC, I would characterize the Asian Database Administrator blog as certainly being amplifying of Asian stereotypes including lack of hygiene, lack of human feelings and sexual unattractiveness/absurdism. So I don't know if I would use the word racist, but I get enough "Long Duck Dong" (16 candles) in the major media. Frankly, I am all about freedom of speech and I will exercise it here by saying that I found it distateful that she would try to get attention at the expense of this guy.
posted by mikojava at 9:47 AM on February 27, 2002


While firing her was probably legal, it's less than moral, and more importantly, it's asinine. She didn't name names - and the point of a weblog is to be able to vent stuff to strangers that you can't vent in real life. (I've become personally disatisfied with my own weblog as more and more people I know read it. I can't even comment on my ex-girlfriend - she reads the site.)

I will say one thing - after spending an hour on Heather Hamilton's site, I'm in love. It's a lucky bastard that gets to marry someone that witty.
posted by crnixon at 9:48 AM on February 27, 2002


Badmichelle, do you honestly think Heather was being discreet by posting it to a very public blog????
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 9:59 AM on February 27, 2002


She was posting about anonymous people in an anonymous company and, presumably, she wasn't telling her coworkers that she was posting or where.

I think you're overstating the anonymity. All a coworker had to do was Google her name (she's the first result) and find her talking about identifiable employees without naming them.

Her site's hilarious, and I loved grousing with coworkers like her who shared my state of permanent disgruntlement. But she was crazy to do this under her real name on the Web. At any company where I worked, if an employee was bad-mouting other employees in identifiable ways in a public forum, we would've stopped all productive toil immediately and beat a path to that forum.
posted by rcade at 10:01 AM on February 27, 2002


I wonder how many times she updated her blog on company time?

If the answer is more than "One" I think she better forget the lawyer and start working on her fry scooping skills.
posted by bondcliff at 10:02 AM on February 27, 2002


When will you people learn to use pseudonyms?
posted by Iberaband at 10:03 AM on February 27, 2002


Hmm. This is disturbing in lots of ways. However, there are some lessons to be learned from this:

1. Never write (or blog) anything you wouldn't say out loud. It always gets out, one way or another. Blogs are not private in the way a diary is -- that is, they are not in the same league as "personal papers". They are public documents.

2. If you plan to badmouth your company (or co-workers) in your blog, just remember that it's really not all that hard to discern who a given blogger really is. The tech world is really a pretty small one; everyone knows everyone else. If you say something nasty, count on someone knowing that it was you who said it.

3. Contrary to popular belief, the 'net has a long memory. Think twice before you click that Submit button, because your stuff is going to be floating around out there forever.

Lots of bloggers don't seem to realize the very thin line they sometimes tread in terms of libel and slander. I've read some stuff in blogs that is probably actionable in court, were the subject ever to become aware of it.
posted by mrmanley at 10:08 AM on February 27, 2002


When I started writing my weblog I listed a number of rules which touch plastic I haven't broken. Top of this list was not to talk about my job. I get very close of course -- I talk about travelling there in my Commuter Tales/Commuter Life posts. And I talk in general terms about being myself at work. But I've never mentioned what I do, and who I do it for.

Which brings me to the next rule. Once I've left there, all bets are off ...
posted by feelinglistless at 10:12 AM on February 27, 2002


Companies can fire anyone for any reason. This is true. However, there must be a reason, and a legitimate one. Heather, if they didn't give you a reason, or, better, really said it was because of your blog, then contact a lawyer. Have the lawyer work on your case for a percentage of what you (may) win.

Companies live in dread of this, and will often settle out of court. Its more difficult to fire someone than the people posting on this thread will have you believe. I think you have a good case. Concentrate on "No Reason." Or. "Unspecified writing on my Blog."

BTW, it doesn't matter if you run a neo-Nazi website, that's not cause for dismissal. If you say "my company sucks", I don't think that's cause for dismissal either.
posted by xammerboy at 10:14 AM on February 27, 2002


In a movie I recently saw, there was a phrase that figured prominently into a critique of a story based entirely on true events:

"As soon as you start writing, everything becomes fiction"

There's something troubling about getting fired for anything you say outside of work. As a reader, I can't figure out where she works or who she was talking about, so why does that negatively affect the company? Also, she sounds like a character from office space; she didn't really enjoy her job, but in a way, she used her personal site to let it out. I don't think she was worried about her google ranking or how she looked to her coworkers, she was just venting, and it happened to be in public. Personally, I've written some pretty damning things about coworkers or bosses or work on my personal site, not because I wanted everyone to know I was pissed about something, but because I had to, I needed the release. I made sure to be as completely vague as possible, but I know a handful of people figured it out. In a simplistic and cynical view, would you rather a dissatisfied employee write about their troubles at work and feel better or bottle it up and go on a gun-blazing rampage someday?

Vision's happy cog worker stuff reminds me of when I was 16 and working in a bike shop. I was just a sales guy/mechanic, but I also competed in local bike events. My domineering boss used to tell me (while paying me minimum wage) that I "represented the company 24 hours a day." I hated that idea, because the job felt like a prison while I was there, and now my ass of a boss was saying it really was like a prison I could never leave. Perhaps some people define themselves by their work more than others, but in my most cynical view an employer is paying to take your free time from you, in exchange for creating more value to the company (hopefully higher than they pay you, so they profit). When you're not being paid to sit in an office and help out the company, you are no longer under any obligation to the company. No, that's my bare minimum, I work plenty of 12 hr days when I'm a salaried worker, and I work from home at night and weekends when projects are due, but I'm under no obligation to do any of that.
posted by mathowie at 10:27 AM on February 27, 2002 [1 favorite]


Also, I think it is incredibly presumptious for anyone here to infer how well or not well Ms. Hamilton did her job, just based on her writing. None of us worked where she did, so it's pointless to project her ill feelings into poor work on her part.
posted by mathowie at 10:30 AM on February 27, 2002


(I'm following Matt's lead and assuming that this is since this is the more active of the threads, I should post here.)

Ms. Hamilton's blog is a relatively clear-cut case, I think. Even for those who seem to excuse her actions by virtue of their "anonymity," it seems that we all agree that blogging about work and co-workers is a bad idea.

What I find more interesting and somewhat frightening is that she could just as easily have been fired for talking about things completely unrelated to her office and employment. The standard examples apply: say she was in AA, or that she had cancer, or any other thing. With all the discussions of companies (cf. Microsoft) willfully invading customers' privacy, most of us have grown quite adept at making these knee-jerk arguments. Which is why I find it fascinating how readily people willingly abandon their own in their blogs.

Essentially, in the same blog where you might be tearing down Microsoft for spying on your DVD-watching habit or Qwest for recording your phone calls you're probably giving out information which could be far more dangerous, personally identifiable and just as easy to find.
posted by Sinner at 10:31 AM on February 27, 2002


Also, I think it is incredibly presumptious for anyone here to infer how well or not well Ms. Hamilton did her job, just based on her writing. None of us worked where she did, so it's pointless to project her ill feelings into poor work on her part.

Actually, she talks specifically on her blog about coming in an hour late for work, having neither showered nor changed her clothes, being rude to coworkers, spending all day not doing any meaningful work, and leaving early. There are other places where she talks about being successful at avoiding taking work assignments in the first place. While I agree that we don't know about the quality of the work that she did turn in, I think it's fair to infer that she wasn't doing everything she could do.
posted by anapestic at 10:48 AM on February 27, 2002


I have to pipe in and agree that reading some of Heather's posts earlier this month made me wince, but somehow I appreciated the moxie. Despite that appreciation, I was still glad that a year ago, when I was convinced that my current client's IT Director was looking at my site, I removed every disparaging comment I'd ever made about any employer, and have avoided posting any since.
posted by arielmeadow at 10:48 AM on February 27, 2002


What Heather did on her blog was no different than bitching about her job with coworkers or friends over drinks.

No, scratch that, there's a difference: her coworkers and friends might have known the specific people involved, whereas anyone who read the blog only saw broad strokes and caricatures. In other words, there was absolutely no way that anyone outside the Company could have possibly known who she was talking about. Excuse me, but where's the harm in venting?

I can't believe people are actually judging her as a Bad Employee because she bitched about her job. Please, unplug from the hive mind, would you?

And whoever anonymously ratted her out should be strung up by their entrails. Sowers of schism, indeed...(damn, I gotta stop reading Dante.)

And as far as the charge of "racism"...um, sorry to inform you of this, but I've met plenty of "Asian Database Administrators" in my day. It's a stock type in an Internet firm. Deal with it.
posted by solistrato at 10:49 AM on February 27, 2002


The moral of the story is that anything you post online can be interpreted in any conceivable light, often far from what was initially intended. Or for that matter, anything you do or say can and will be used against you without so much as an ear perched over to your side of the story. Is it fair for an employer to fire someone over his/her outside actions? Absolutely not, but there's little security within the "at will" nature of current employment law. An employer can fire an employee for any reason. This opens up a Pandora's box of contemplations about how an employer views an employee and where the line between personal and professional life is drawn. In some cases, there isn't the benefit of distinction. If Heather hadn't been fired for her blog, it could have been for something far more cowardly.
posted by ed at 10:57 AM on February 27, 2002


"could have been HANDLED far more cowardly" is what I meant to say.
posted by ed at 10:58 AM on February 27, 2002


Heather, if you're reading this -- you should talk with a lawyer who specializes in labour issues. What have you got to lose?

She has the case to lose. I am searching my butt off for it, and can't find the link, but employees who criticize their employers on the Internet have not been successful in court.

In a perfect world, it wouldn't matter, and you could criticize as much as you want, and the employer would use it constructively or not pay attention. Whether or not it is moral, that is another story, but I don't think she has a chance in hell for any sort of wrongful termination case. If she archived any of the things that were mentioned above, regarding coming in late etc., what makes anyone think that she could get this job back?

I was criticizing my boss for a while on my site, and my aunt, who is a recruiter, as well as every other person I know, said that it could be a hinderance to getting another job. Who wants to hire someone who slams their coworkers? Not that you should be happy with everything that happens, but to leave such hostile statements floating off in cyberspace, I certainly wouldn't hire someone who did that.
posted by adampsyche at 11:04 AM on February 27, 2002


Excuse me, but where's the harm in venting?

I can't believe people are actually judging her as a Bad Employee because she bitched about her job. Please, unplug from the hive mind, would you?


Venting is a good thing. Doing it where your coworkers and bosses can see it is stupid. I'm not saying that they were right to fire her, only that what she did was stupid.

I don't know what "unplug from the hive mind" means in this context, but if you read more of what she says about her own job performance, it's hard not to see her as a bad employee.
posted by anapestic at 11:05 AM on February 27, 2002


I think it's fair to infer that she wasn't doing everything she could do.

Check my movie quote again, please. If I'm talking to friends, reminiscing about my boring in-between-project days at one of my jobs, I might tell them I came into work, read email and the web for 3 hours, went to a 2 hour lunch, came back and played quake all afternoon. On a couple days in my life, I've actually done that, but I might paint a job with a broad brush and say I used to do it "all the time" (how many of you are wasting work hours right now, reading metafilter? most of you? it sure seems like all the traffic occurs between 9am and 6pm here). My point is she wrote about those things and we don't know if they were true or how much she was embellishing facts for dramatic license. I exaggerate when I tell stories. I do it when I write stories as well. I have a feeling she was doing the same.

Also, I know this one is a gray area, her post in question was pretty harsh and named people's titles, but I still don't know where she worked, so I have no idea who she was talking about or whether or not it is all fiction (her "firing" could be fiction for all I know).
posted by mathowie at 11:06 AM on February 27, 2002


I think she was a little too specific in some of her complaining here, in specific the Asian Database Administrator reeks of Charlie Chan "I suprise by myself".

SJC, regardless or not whether you think that the stereotype is common enough to justify her use, I don't think it's appropriate.

If she worked for me, and I found out that she had written these things. It's not that I would be bothered by them, it's that how would the Asian DBA feel once he found out? How would the clueless tech producer feel? Especially in a team environment, her comments would be detrimental to the team itself.

My question is would anybody blame the Asian DBA, if he was the one who anonymously ratted out Heather?
posted by patrickje at 11:06 AM on February 27, 2002


[I can't believe people are actually judging her as a Bad Employee because she bitched about her job. ]

I think we are judging her as a 'Bad Employee' based on what she tells us about how she performs her job and her attitude while doing it. I wouldn't want her as an employee.
posted by revbrian at 11:07 AM on February 27, 2002


xammerboy: "However, there must be a reason, and a legitimate one.... Its more difficult to fire someone than the people posting on this thread will have you believe."

xammerboy, I'm an employment lawyer. It's what I've done, day in and day out, for the last 7 years. 99.9% of the time I post something on Metafilter I'm just speaking out of my ass. This topic is the .1% exception. On this topic I am sure: Unless she had a contract that guaranteed she could only be fired for "just cause," then she was employed "at will," and could be fired for any reason or no reason at all. And it's not that difficult to fire someone who isn't in a "protected classification." Although Heather is female (a protected class), she's not suggesting she was fired because she is a female.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:08 AM on February 27, 2002


Query: Why does anyone think that they are entitled to employment?
posted by SpecialK at 11:11 AM on February 27, 2002


Ok. She didn't name names, but she did put her coworker's pictures online.

I don't know. It seems pretty chilling, no matter if it was justified or not.
posted by crunchland at 11:14 AM on February 27, 2002


Wow. Her blog is hysterical. But Jumping Jesus and his brother Irving, if anyone is wondering why she got fired, read the archives.
posted by adampsyche at 11:20 AM on February 27, 2002


pardonyou? maybe you could answer this one for me. At my previous place of employ, we had an alcoholic salesperson whose work performance was terrible and who regularly badmouthed the company to several of our clients. It fell to me and a few others to document this person's screwups so we could have specifics on file. This person also had to receive a set number of verbal and written warnings before finally being fired, even though we all knew what was going on.

So my question is this--was all of our detective work and documentation necessary? Or was the company just covering it's ass? I guess I am surprised that the firing took place (seemingly) with no warning. That's never happened in any of my work environments.
posted by whatnot at 11:24 AM on February 27, 2002


If you wouldn't say it during the Superbowl halftime show, you probably shouldn't put it on a website. It may not seem "fair" but that's how its gonna be. The proliferation of the web will just aid that. If you really need a journal to complain, either do it anonymously or go to the bookstore and pick up a paper and pen one.
posted by owillis at 11:24 AM on February 27, 2002


When I worked at an Internet firm, sjc, I worked alongside individuals, not stock types. (I left the old-fashioned way: I was laid off 'cause money got tight.) I don't want to sow schism, and you can stop reading me and go back to Dante at any time (his flow's pretty tight, after all, n'est-ce pas?), but mikojava's points are still pretty valid.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 11:28 AM on February 27, 2002


Tell me something, sjc, how would you feel if she'd written something about a "Jewboy Database Administrator?" Would that have upset you? Would you have found it racist?

The problem with racism is that the lines that define it are based on someone's context. What may not be racist to you could be racist to someone else. But given how incindiary racism is in this country, don't you think it's important to err on the side of prudence.

However, you debate the issues in this thread, Heather wasn't very prudent.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 11:28 AM on February 27, 2002


crunchland, they look like random pictures of random people at an undisclosed company. I was the resident "photo dork" that was asked to take photos at company gatherings, and when I wasn't asked, I sometimes did take photos for fun, to remember the night. I posted them online for the people in the pictures to see, more than sharing them with outsiders.

I don't think the photos say anything good or bad about her company or her job or her attitude. They're just photos.
posted by mathowie at 11:34 AM on February 27, 2002


I'm not sure but it does seem like a free speech issue. -Taken Outtacontext

Not really. She was exercising her free speech. Maybe there was something in her employment contract about not defaming the company outside of work... or maybe employees need to be extra careful reading their contracts when signing up for a job, getting fired on a technicality would suck. But this wasn't really a technicality. Whining to your friends and co-workers over a drink is far different from publishing highly negative stuff that your boss and all the vp's of the company can read. It would be really difficult to work with someone if you knew they were completely criticizing you on the web, and the entire company was reading it and knowing exactly who she was talking about. Within the environment of that business, there could have been a lot of tension.

And she practically says she has to accept the consequences of her speech, so I think the biggest thing to note is the point that you should watch your ass on the web, your employer is probably watching.
posted by insomnyuk at 11:34 AM on February 27, 2002


My point is she wrote about those things and we don't know if they were true or how much she was embellishing facts for dramatic license. I exaggerate when I tell stories. I do it when I write stories as well. I have a feeling she was doing the same.

I read your movie quote, Matt. I don't think the fact that someone did something in a movie is compelling logic to assert that this person did the same thing in this instance. If you look at what she said in her most recent post, she said that she exaggerated the characteristics of other employees, not that she misrepresented her own actions. It makes more sense to me to judge based on what she actually wrote rather than based on a perceived propensity of employees to embellish.

You wrote that we had no basis to infer that she was doing a bad job. She gave us plenty of basis. I don't think it makes sense to presume that she wasn't telling the truth.

Also, while it's likely the case that most of us read MetaFilter from work, I don't see how that fact is relevant to this case.
posted by anapestic at 11:35 AM on February 27, 2002


I got in trouble at my last job for writing about people I worked with. Like this situation, it all happened because one guy emailed my website to every single guy in the whole company. Charming. I vowed I'd never write about work again. However, when I started my current job, they actually asked me not to write about work on my website. I wouldn't do it again, that's for sure.

But, this woman must have even the slightest case for wrongful termination. Maybe? I'm not a lawyer, but as it has been mentioned before in this thread, they shouldn't be able to fire her for what she thinks.
posted by animoller at 11:35 AM on February 27, 2002


whatnot, even though the law doesn't require documentation or a specific set of steps, many employers nonetheless take the time to follow a particular process -- more for employee relations than legal reasons. In addition, there's a difference between violating the law and avoiding a lawsuit. Prudent employers will document before they fire, although the law doesn't require it. They do this for two reasons: (1) when a plaintiffs' lawyer is considering whether to take on a lawsuit, he or she will review all the materials to evaluate the chance of success -- the more documentation exists, the less chance of winning; and (2) in the event of trial, juries and judges are more persuaded by things that are documented.

Two other potential issues in your situation: alcoholism is a "disability" protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. You can't fire someone because they are an alcoholic. You can, however, fire them for their inappropriate conduct, whether or not caused by alcoholism. Second, if the employee was union or otherwise worked under a contract, then he could not be terminated unless there was "just cause" -- a much higher burden than "at will."
posted by pardonyou? at 11:37 AM on February 27, 2002


I gotta say, the asian database administrator story sounds mostly ficticious, but has a "me so solly!" sound to it, and comes off as exaggerated to the point of being unfunny. It's clumsy humor writing, to "go to the well" of "wacky racial" humor.

I had an annoying coworker once that had disgusting personal habits and procrastinated on the job, but I wouldn't bother describing his race or put broken english words into his mouth.
posted by mathowie at 11:38 AM on February 27, 2002


Matt: I guess you're right. I guess I was thinking about what would happen if a client happened to read her blog, and suddenly recognized the people, yaddayaddayadda... This is the first time I've set eyes on that blog. Hard to say if the people who held sway over Heather's career were thinking about whether identifying things like that mattered or not.
posted by crunchland at 11:38 AM on February 27, 2002


"When you're not being paid to sit in an office and help out the company, you are no longer under any obligation to the company. No, that's my bare minimum, I work plenty of 12 hr days when I'm a salaried worker, and I work from home at night and weekends when projects are due, but I'm under no obligation to do any of that."

You are, at least in a legal sense; you have a responsibility to not commit libel. If the people in her web log are in any way identifiable (as they are, as rcade pointed out) then this is a case of libel.

I'm not familiar with this web log, and even a quick read of it now won't be enough to allow me to comment on this knowledgably, however it seems like Heather has already said that she isn't surprised about this -

"But I really don't feel like I have the right to be all that bitter. I made my bed; I'll lie in it, to quote the inimitable Courtney Love. I understood the risk when I wrote certain things about certain figures "

Workplaces are odd, people get paranoid. Although this is a web log, it probably comes under the libel and slander laws. I do think Heather has a right to vent, I'm just not 100% sure that she has a right to vent in public, or that if she does, it doesn't come under the libel and slander laws that affect other people for other things (if this had been a syndicated column in a magazine, for example - even though she used other names, I'm pretty sure her co-workers would have been sussing out the real names. Whether they got them correct or not is irrelevant.
posted by lucien at 11:53 AM on February 27, 2002


I read your movie quote, Matt. I don't think the fact that someone did something in a movie is compelling logic to assert that this person did the same thing in this instance.

Forget the movie part, simply take in the idea of the quote. Whenever you write about something, no matter how true it is, in a sense, it is fiction. While people here are quoting her writing as fact, and saying it proves she was a bad coworker, didn't like the company, didn't help the company, and had no plans to better herself or change her ways, I think it's a stretch to make any assessment, based soley on her writing, which is personal (not journalism! :) and we shouldn't take everything she says on face value or use it as absolute truth and fact.

Also, while it's likely the case that most of us read MetaFilter from work, I don't see how that fact is relevant to this case.

I was trying to make light of a tough situation, by making a little joke: we're all sitting here debating how much she was or wasn't a good worker and unfairly fired while at the same time people are seemingly wasting company time to discuss it (not in my case, I'm a freelance writer now or something). It was an attempt at humor.
posted by mathowie at 11:54 AM on February 27, 2002


I (may or may not) work with people like this... Granted, I have a hard time showing any emotion or evidence that I'm alive in team meetings, and I generally won't acknowledge anyone who approaches my desk with paper goods in hand. ...I can't agree to do anything. ...."But it's your job." "Who says so?" "Your employment contract says so." "Your momma says so." "Shut up."

Perhaps I should set them up with blogs?
posted by revbrian at 11:59 AM on February 27, 2002


How would the clueless tech producer feel?

Well, perhaps he would be inspired to learn how to use e-mail. Sometimes it takes a kick in the ass, you know.

Speaking as someone who frequently referenced the absurdities of her (former—but I got laid off, not fired, neener neener) place of employment on her site, I think that the Metafilter Moralizing Police are running a bit rampant around here yet again. I find it hard to believe that all of you who are crowing 'bad attitude! get rid of her!' have never had a bad attitude about your place of work, that you've never wanted to vent about it. The idea that if you work someplace, you're then forced to 'represent' it 24 hours a day is totally bogus, another "new economy"-perpetuated piece of bullshit that's only serving to further turn back any of labor's gains.
posted by maura at 11:59 AM on February 27, 2002


Taken Outtacontext: Point made, and a valid one. But "Jewboy"? That's foul.

I'll shut up now.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 12:01 PM on February 27, 2002


"Heather, if you're reading this -- you should talk with a lawyer who specializes in labour issues. What have you got to lose?"

Getting a lawyer who is happy to take the case to court even though they know it is likely to be unwinnable? Health? Self esteem? Time? Being counter-sued? The risk of being individually sued by your co-workers once the case hit the open arena? The risk that the case might become really hight profile and affect future job opportunites? Reputation (fighting a "frivolous" law suit can re-bound on you if you ever really need to use the courts for a justifiable purpose)

Going to court isn't easy, even when you have a legitimate case, which imho, this one isn't. All very good to get all self-righteous on her behalf, but she's the one who would have go through with it. I wouldn't tell her not to go down this path, but I certainly would be careful about telling her to do it.
posted by lucien at 12:02 PM on February 27, 2002


I think my point can best be made this way. Let's say you're being fired, and the HR director whips out your "How to Hate Your Job" (or whatever the exact title was) post and gives it as an example of why you're being fired. Do you say:

a) "That's a private weblog, you have no business reading that" or

b) "Well, that was highly exaggerated, you shouldn't believe what I write"

I can't imagine either of these arguments being terribly persuasive to either an executive of your company or to a court of law.
posted by anapestic at 12:05 PM on February 27, 2002


we shouldn't take everything she says on face value or use it as absolute truth and fact.

That is absolutely correct, but from the point of view of the management, her writings do portray a very poor attitude towards your work, and it would be ignorant to think that a person with such a bad attitude toward a job is going to do that job well, if at all (which she admits doing). I don't think there is any question of whether it is grounds for dismissal. It is unfortunate, and I learned this the hard way, but the things that she said weren't even of the "my company does this and should do this" kind. She personally attacked a lot of people, anonymous or not, and I can not think of any employer who would look at that and not show her the door. This isn't an example of wanting little worker bees, it is about wanting employees who get along with each other and are respectful. Her own posts brag about how difficult she was to her colleagues.
posted by adampsyche at 12:10 PM on February 27, 2002


I could see how writing some of the stuff on the site could harm the compnay. Of course, not knowing what she does specifically, I don't know if this applies to her. Suppose she works on a project that is for an external customer and the customer knows that she is working and billing directly to their project. If the customer comes across her site and gets the impression that she is padding hours charged to a contract, they have good reason to audit her company.

If there wasn't a bit of an advesarial relationship going on with her and her supervisors, I would suspect that this single point wouldn't result in her being fired. It should be obvious to her employers wether or not she is embellishing her exploits.

That being said, I absolutely loved reading her site over the last few months since finding it linked somewhere and I'm on lunch right now.
posted by jonah at 12:13 PM on February 27, 2002


I can't imagine either of these arguments being terribly persuasive to either an executive of your company or to a court of law.

Well, I would state b) if I were in her shoes, because that's how it reads to me. If a company would rather fire someone than discuss what is in the post, how much is true, what could be done to change things, etc., then it doesn't sound like a very good company to work at.

Bravo to what maura wrote. I'm surprised no one has ever expressed any job dissatisfaction in their lives. Of course in heather's case, she's laying it out in the open, but still, I'm sure a good number of people reading this have told their spouses, their family, and their friends about being unhappy at work, and from time to time that gets back to the company. What the company choses to do with it is an important issue.
posted by mathowie at 12:16 PM on February 27, 2002


I think the libel angle is a red herring here. Lucien, are you saying Heather knowingly made false or misleading statements about those people? It's not libel if it's true.
posted by rodii at 12:17 PM on February 27, 2002


i agree with adampsyche. at a company that small it would be obvious to anyone from that company reading it exactly who she was referring to. and she takes issue with the anonymous email, but she in turn is ratting out her coworkers to her employers that now know her supervisor orders prada shoes online while at work and their dba shuns email. she's no less guilty than the anonymous emailer.

and matt, when you reach a certain level at some companies, like it or not, you ARE representative of that company 24 hours a day. i always make the utmost effort to look as good as possible and to be as polite as possible when i'm out in public. i don't want to flip someone off or look like a slob at the grocery store only to walk into a meeting with a new client and recognize them as someone i was rude to or have them recognize me as the slattern they chatted with in line at the market.

my website reflects that as well. yes, it frustrates me that people are getting a one dimensional portrait of me as a crazy cat lady that likes olivia newton john but i have to find a way to write and interact with other people online without alienating friends, family, clients or my employer.
posted by centrs at 12:18 PM on February 27, 2002


Look straight at your boss as you pass her desk and say, "Smack my motherfucking bitch up."

yikes. it could be fiction, or exaggeration, but why not just put your head in the guillotine and release the blade yourself?
posted by Dean King at 12:21 PM on February 27, 2002


Fess up, you motherfucker.
i've tried to say this a couple times out loud and i can't seem to make it sound natural... i wonder if she can actually say this without souding awkward... just a side-thought.

somewhat similar to matt's experience, my high school, albeit a jesuit one, made it known that even if we were not in school grounds, we always represented the school.. even if we were at parties during the weekends. students were often given punishments in school even though they were caugh drinking underage by their parents and/or cops. i mean, i can understand if it's on their property or at a school event (i.e. football games), but adding punishment to what the student already got was just ridiculous... bah. nothing in high school made sense.

i had a situation kind of like heather's. about a month ago, i got caught in my blog for writing an entry about a work situation where i mentioned my boss' first name once, which pretty much screws me out of the whole anonymous defense, i guess. one of my coworkers had stumbled on it by typing in the url in my email address and thought that my making fun of our boss was funny, thus why she not only showed all our coworkers, but everyone in the department (i work for a support service for my college, which is part of my program's department). they even had a discussion about it at a staff meeting. luckily, they didn't take too unkindly to it. i imagine my boss was offended, but we've never mentioned it to each other. my professors however, and not to mention my coworkers/classmates, have no problem with coming to me and joking about it. my department head even took me aside one day and asked if i wanted to help write a section for a textbook he was putting together for his class which involved keeping a journal... lucky me, i got off without any negative consequences, save embarassment.
posted by lotsofno at 12:22 PM on February 27, 2002


Bravo to what maura wrote. I'm surprised no one has ever expressed any job dissatisfaction in their lives. Of course in heather's case, she's laying it out in the open, but still, I'm sure a good number of people reading this have told their spouses, their family, and their friends about being unhappy at work, and from time to time that gets back to the company. What the company choses to do with it is an important issue.

I don't think any of us is saying that we've never expressed any job dissatisfaction. The time-honored way of doing this is at happy hour. Preferably, you make sure that any higher ups who may be present are even more hammered than you are.

For that matter, I don't think that most of us are saying that the company's actions were the best way to handle the situation. I'm troubled by the implication that we're all calling for her head because she griped about the company and that because of that we're insensitive and/or hypocritical.

What we're saying is that independent of the company's actions, what she did was stupid. She took a sort of communication that's not meant to be public and made it public.

If a company would rather fire someone than discuss what is in the post, how much is true, what could be done to change things, etc., then it doesn't sound like a very good company to work at.

I would draw a distinction between a company that doesn't want to deal with legitimate complaints that are brought to it in a forthright manner and a company that reacts negatively to something that's incredibly snarky and posted on the sly.

As I said before, however, it bothers me that the company paid attention to anonymous emails. But I can also see where they're coming from. They probably felt blindsided and that they had a morale problem to deal with.
posted by anapestic at 12:26 PM on February 27, 2002


You are, at least in a legal sense; you have a responsibility to not commit libel. If the people in her web log are in any way identifiable (as they are, as rcade pointed out) then this is a case of libel.

This, I think, is a key point that's getting lost here. The admonishment to use pseudonyms, her assertion that she never named the company or the specific individuals involved... It's all irrelevant.

The "identifiable" criteria doesn't only apply to random visitors to her site. In fact, the minimum number of people who can identify someone she's writing about to meet this standard is one. Even if it's the same person.

She might write that she had a conversation with "a coworker" about Jon Benet Ramsey that convinced her this coworker was a child molester. She might provide no other information beyond that. But if I was that coworker, and I identified myself as the subject of the entry, I'd have a case. Even if no one else - coworkers and random surfers - could have figured out my identity.

I don't think the "Asian Database Administrator" would have any difficulty recognizing himself in her writing. And, as has been previously mentioned, since she both blogs under her real name and incorporated company employee photos as part of her site, she's considerably further down the "not anonymous" continuum than some posters here seem to think.
posted by pzarquon at 12:30 PM on February 27, 2002


allaboutgeorge: Point made, and a valid one. But "Jewboy"? That's foul.

As I said, everyone has a line. Just because it's not close to you doesn't mean it isn't close to someone else. Words can hurt. Especially when the context isn't clear.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 12:33 PM on February 27, 2002


"I think that the Metafilter Moralizing Police are running a bit rampant around here yet again. "

I was taking a legal, not a moral view of what has happened. However I find it a bit odd that no one is really taking into account how her co-workers feel about being put on public display.

"Well, perhaps he would be inspired to learn how to use e-mail. Sometimes it takes a kick in the ass, you know."

Assuming Heather is right, that might be true. Here we only get her side of the story. The "clueless tech producer" would no-doubt have another, just as legitimate. That's the problem here. Most people here can easily identify with people in the web logging community, but seem to have little sympathy for the people who are depicted on her web log (which is now, no doubt, the talk of the office) and which as rcade said, was easily accessible by anyone putting Heather's name into Google.

One could just as easily label people the "Metafilter Moralizing Police" for not taking into account the feelings of the co-workers. Perhaps they were already worried about their job and are now considerably more worried about it due to something that Heather wrote in her web log. Perhaps they are also less than thrilled that some of the tags she has liberally thrown around have stuck. It's just like getting a choice nickname at school and having to wear it for the next few years. Funny, yes, but probably far less so for the person who has to put up with it.

Heather's site is comic gold, but she needed to take more steps to ensure that both herself and her office weren't identifiable. That's the difference between venting in a private diary or to friends, and putting stuff in the public domain.
posted by lucien at 12:35 PM on February 27, 2002


Also, while it's likely the case that most of us read MetaFilter from work, I don't see how that fact is relevant to this case.

Because maybe your grandstanding comes across as the teensiest bit hypocritical? I mean, don't you have work to do?

Really, the tone here is frightening. People seem to think it's okay that someone anonymously tipped off the VPs of the company about her website, and that she was subsequently fired for it. HELLO, people? She bitched about her job, and she was FIRED for it because someone snitched on her!

Was it wise of her to post such things on a public web site? Maybe not. But it's snitching. It's office politics. Whether it's a web site or talking with coworkers, someone didn't like her, and they got her fired. FIRED. In this economy. Not laid off, FIRED. That means no unemployment benefits, if I'm not mistaken.

It's really fucking hypocritical here. Anyone who's judging her, I hope you've never said one bad word about a coworker or your company to anyone - glass houses, judge not lest ye be judged, etc. The self-righteousness here is overwhelming.
posted by solistrato at 12:37 PM on February 27, 2002


If a company would rather fire someone than discuss what is in the post, how much is true, what could be done to change things, etc., then it doesn't sound like a very good company to work at.

Not to be argumentative, but as an employee, if something(s) is bothering her that much, to the point that she admittedly can not do her job, doesn't she have a responsibility to a) change her rotten attitude, or b) address the situation through the appropriate channels? As in, shit or get off the pot?
posted by adampsyche at 12:37 PM on February 27, 2002


With all due respect, I think you are missing the point, sjc. I was ratted on at work for something similar, and never did I think that it was anyone else's fault. Sure, I am pissed at the rat fuck who sung like a canary, but it was my fault. I shouldn't have been so damned naive.

I don't think anyone here is saying that you should not be able to criticize your employer, or that you should be a happy worker bee.

I don't see anyone grandstanding. I am not a model employee on many days, but I have learned not to do certain things, such as criticize my employer and reveal what a crappy worker I am on my web site. I am not saying, nor has anyone else here said, that they have never criticized an employer, and don't put those words in people's mouths. What they are saying is they didn't do so on a public Web site.

People seem to think it's okay that someone anonymously tipped off the VPs of the company about her website, and that she was subsequently fired for it.

You miss the point. It isn't just "her website." You are allowed to have a Web site, but to think that you aren't responsible for what you post there, and the repurcussions it could have, you have to be completely naive. I am not saying I am happy about it, in fact, I would love the ability to say what I want to about my employer at certain times in a public forum, but that just. isn't. reality.
posted by adampsyche at 12:45 PM on February 27, 2002


doesn't she have a responsibility to a) change her rotten attitude, or b) address the situation through the appropriate channels? As in, shit or get off the pot?

it goes both ways though, it would be great if she could talk to an understanding manager and work out the problems, but if they find out another way, I would hope they give her the benefit of the doubt and talk about the cause of any problems before firing her outright. I've worked places that were completely free of understanding managers, and I would vent to my wife and friends instead. Heather did it online, in full public view, which may not have been the best choice.

Here's something I'd like to ask people not responding in this thread: what dangerous precident is being set? How afraid are you of posting here, for fear of google putting it on your "permanent record?" I know it's almost unamerican to discuss how much we might not like work (would it be called "work" if it were fun all the time?), for the mortal fear of being fired for a bad attitude. It's very scary stuff.
posted by mathowie at 12:55 PM on February 27, 2002


Centrs: It largely depends on the job. For any job I do that is not writing-related, something which exists as a way for me to rake in quick cash and run, I make it perfectly clear at the onset that I have no intention of making the job my lifelong ambition, that I have other things that I'm involved in and that, when push comes to shove, those things matter most of all to me. I'll come in on time, I'll bust my ass, I'll do the best job I can, but, after that, it's back to my time. If an employer is uncomfortable with what I do or who I am outside of my job, then there is simply no damned excuse for me to work for them. They've hired me for the work that I do. I don't see why anything any singular individual does outside of work should have a damned thing to do with their time on the job. I'll be damned if an employer tells me not to flip off that asshole who cut me off on the freeway or write essays containing a cornucopia of four-letter words on my time. These are ultimately my choices and if an employer is not content with a personality type of this caliber, then I won't work for them.

A job is a job is a job. You can get one or drop one and do your own damned thing, if you like. That is one of the virtues of America. Granted, at any job, there's always the risk of Murphy's Law, an unexpected shanghai that can't be anticipated. But if you take a job in which you have to live up to certain "professional" lifestyle standards and you get fired because of it, then you have no one to blame but yourself. In Heather's situation, this isn't the case. It looks as if some unidentified gunslinger pulled out his Colt from a darkened garret.
posted by ed at 1:00 PM on February 27, 2002


Would we be having this much of a discussion if Heather had appeared on a talk show and said all the things she did? If she had turned to Jay Leno and told him about her co-workers but insisted that her place of employment remain confidential? Would everyone be quick to leap to her defense when her boss fired her the next day?

I can't see the difference between the scenario above and a what she did with her web log. There might be a better chance that her boss didn't read the web log rather than watch the tv show, but if she wanted to make absolutely sure her boss/employer never read it, then she shouldn't have published it on the web.
posted by grum@work at 1:11 PM on February 27, 2002


On the question on "being allowed to vent about work", there is clearly a line where venting becomes inappropriate. I'm not clear in my mind exactly where that point lies, but there is a difference between telling you wife about something and writing it on a publicly viewable and searchable website.

Would it be inappropriate to write disparaging remarks about your coworkers and drop them as leaflets around the office? I think so. Inappropriate to vent to a select group of coworkers at happy hour? I think not. What if Heather had taken out a weekly newspaper ad with the same content that is on her website?
posted by jonah at 1:19 PM on February 27, 2002


matt:

i admit i do feel rotten about being archived on google. my site is purposely configured with robots.txt so that it is not indexable, and yet since my url is publically available, it is indexed on google anyway (though it is not searched and no information beyond the url is available). i've actually had hits from searches for "moz" via google, which is incredibly odd to me, but i figure it is due to the association between my profile here and my website. it was that which prompted me to empty my profile of all but my url, and left me wishing you could prevent profiles from being archived by google.
posted by moz at 1:20 PM on February 27, 2002


I could start blocking user profiles from being indexed by google, I've had about 3-4 people email me personally to change their usernames, or delete their accounts altogether, due to google tracing their real identity to their profile here.
posted by mathowie at 1:23 PM on February 27, 2002


Sadly she shouldnt of been fired. Warned maybe sure but not fired. Here's a girl that probably out does the writing coming out of yer marketing department, harvest that talent dont throw it away. Sure she's saucy, ok do want someone dead with no opinions, doesnt give a crap and just wants the 9-5 paycheck and could care less? All too often employers see any reaction, venting wise and assume the person is a trouble maker and targeted for termination.

I hate the fact we as employees should watch our asses 24/7 on the web and that a personal log of our thoughts isnt ours, its not free, its ripe for the killing. Whats the point in blogging under the guise of BigBrother or living in fear of your boss? Why say anything at all. Someone needs to get in the fake id business and generate complete false personalities for people on the web that wish to be truly free. Your promoting the notion that the web is not free, your site isnt free, your in the check 24/7.

The problem with this is we are not seperating her home from her workplace. At the workplace sure all is justifed but at home? Does she get that right?

Without a doubt she is a spicy gal but management is sending a bad message with just firing her outright. Typical management though. They'd rather blow thru the costs of hiring someone to replace her and attempt to educate them on proper edicate when in fact odds are they run a 50/50 chance of getting this exact result. But hey its only cash, blow thru it man!

Her attitude is on the chopping block for the most part, theres no hope just total damnation. But its a blog its a place where you go write that letter six times before you get down what you want to say without killing everyone in the room. Its a place to reflect and understand and sure spread it out all publicly but thats part of the know thy self process. You can't do that if its private. Art without an audience isn't art, just some paint on a wall.

The smart employer would of taken her up on the challenge. "Whats this all about? What are trying to say? Should this concern me with your future perfomance with this firm? I like your energy here but its all negative, can we turn this around?"

It's all in the delivery and Heather missed the mark on that. Sure her website is a great read but heck why not just go the Scott Adams route and cartoon it all up in a few million dollar book deals. Ya got the words babe but no tact and sadly yer unemployeed and now miffed? You knew you were pushing the line and didnt mind, you even dared them but they called ya and thus yer outa a job. Was it fair? No but were you fair to them? No. Even? Who knows. Learn anything? Probably not. Should you have to learn something? Gah!
posted by drock at 1:24 PM on February 27, 2002


jonah, in the past, a small number of the population had internet access, or knew enough to find exact sites. I would guess that heather wrote what she'd say in a bar, and thought the website was at the same level. Since she's been writing about it for a while, I would say only one person at her job finally found it, so it's a lot like talking in a bar about work, except google now indexes every bar conversation every made.

the bottom line is heather crossed some boundaries and we can argue the exact placement of those boundaries forever, since it's such a gray area, just as there is a grey area between truth and fiction, and honesty and ill-will. But there is worth and importance in dissenting voices that shouldn't be completely discarded. I don't like the "always be a happy worker" attitude because it often masks the truth.
posted by mathowie at 1:30 PM on February 27, 2002


I'm having the same problem working up the outrage about her firing, grum. While it's great to think that you should be able to say anything you want about your coworkers and your job on your own time, that's not the reality of the workplace, and I don't even think it should be.

An employer ought to be able to read a public weblog available to a global audience and say, "I don't want to be associated with the publisher of this weblog." Especially when the weblog disparages unnamed-but-easily-identifiable employees of the company.

Would people still be so outraged if Heather was a male supervisor whose weblog classified his coworkers by breast size? A boss who allowed that to go on would be inviting a sexual harrassment lawsuit.
posted by rcade at 1:33 PM on February 27, 2002


pzarquon's Jon Benet reference reminded me of this exceedingly bizarre experience that Monique of Hideous Kinky had: a coworker essentially admitted to her that he was a child molester, over AIM (transcript); later (scroll up) she went to court. Bizarrely, he not only admitted this, but didn't seem to expect her to act on it -- unless you count the psychology that he was probably reaching out for help, someone to make him stop.

This doesn't of course have any equivalence with admitting taking extended coffee breaks -- rather it simply indicates that in the electronic world, the rules are a little different. It has more in common with the Dateline story last night about a young man who confessed to murder in an AA meeting -- and some members kept the secret for up to five years. This world-wide "web" as they call it brings to mind, in some ways, more the community of a small town, where it is practically impossible to have real secrets. Maybe it seems impersonal when you're blinking away on the keyboard like I am now in my own living room with not a sould around but the radio, but once this is out here, it's out.

rcade: of course you bring up something that has actually existed, from the "Babes of the Internet" (very early web, the guy found practically every female who'd put her picture on a web page, pulled it into his own, and rated her), to the recent high-school web pages that have rated female students by appearance or sexual performance. There've been several, actually.
posted by dhartung at 1:42 PM on February 27, 2002


adampsyche, I know full well the practical reality of the situation. I'm just livid that people may think it's okay, that she deserved to be fired, that it's okay that someone ratted on her. I'm mad. I'm extraordinarily angry. And a lot of attitudes I've seen in this thread sound patronizing, smug, self-righteous, and "dumb girl shoulda known better."

I refuse to believe that it's okay to fire someone for bitching about your job outside of work.

Oh, and for whoever was clever enough to come up with "Jewboy database administrator"? Nice sleight-of-hand: "Asian" is a term of ethnic origin; "Jewboy" is an insult. If Heather wrote "the slanteye database administrator," you might have had a point. But, you know, way to be inflammatory for no reason.
posted by solistrato at 1:42 PM on February 27, 2002


How afraid are you of posting here, for fear of google putting it on your "permanent record?"

Exactly. I've always kept that sort of thing in the back of my mind, and I just frantically searched my own site for anything I've ever said about work... I don't want to even post this lest someone get funny ideas... jeepers. Bad precedent, and very chilling.
posted by mimi at 1:45 PM on February 27, 2002


Matt, I can't agree with you more on the "always be happy worker" attitude. I think alot of workplace problems would get worked out if people would be upfront with their issues, rather than griping about it with select workers and then telling their bosses that everything is peachy. That attitude is prevalent in every company, people who are unwilling to raise flags when they think things are going wrong. I work hard to keep my boss appraised of my feelings, and am also careful not to make an issue out of things that are not beyond the normal scope of what "work" really is; which often involves solving people problems as well as technical ones.

I wonder if it was only one person who found her site, or if other people had seen it, but weren't bothered by it, all it would have taken is for one of those people to mention her site in passing and the good old office rumor mill could have fired her URL across the company.
posted by jonah at 1:46 PM on February 27, 2002


sjc - Nobody ratted on her. A rat must be a co-conspirator who later turns upon their cohorts. Would G. Gordon Liddy steer us wrong?
posted by NortonDC at 1:47 PM on February 27, 2002


matt, i don't think it's about always being a happy worker, and i don't think (from what we know) that she was fired for not being a happy worker, or for expressing her opinion. i would imagine, if i was the employer, that i might make a case that she was creating a hostile work environment with her stories - because even if they were highly fictionalized, they probably didn't endear her to some of her coworkers.

and when my own site was entered into evidence in a lawsuit, i did mention in the deposition that there was no claim of truth anywhere on the site (not that i was talking about work in any way). the attorneys didn't really care. because i'd made a public utterance, they were free to use those words in any way they chose to, in order to support their point. that's what happens when you make a public act. it's naive to think otherwise.
posted by judith at 1:54 PM on February 27, 2002


sjc: At some point, the sheer repetition of "Asian database administrator" becomes a racial slur. It's like railing about "that Jew lawyer" -- if there isn't a point to calling attention to the guy's ethnicity, and Heather is constantly insulting him and claiming he speaks in broken English, you gotta wonder what's going on there.

However, some of her ragging on him is pretty damn funny.
posted by rcade at 1:55 PM on February 27, 2002


there's a difference between being "unhappy about a situation and addressing the issues" and "letting it fester until it develops a bad attitude that effects performance". bottom line - if you accept a paycheck from an employer, no matter how bad they are, no matter how weird or cruel or twisted...not matter how much of a clusterfuck your place of business is...you have a responsibility to get your job done. part of that includes a certain degree of loyalty to the place and part of that involves getting along with your coworkers. if you aren't willing to do that then do everyone a favor and quit. i don't understand the mentality of trying to get away with as little as possible and then laughing up your sleeve about it. that's stealing.
posted by centrs at 1:57 PM on February 27, 2002


dhartung: Robert Toups! I'm still trying to recover from seeing the nude image of him in Wired with a keyboard over his groin.

There's a much closer example I should've used. No one seems to be upset that Goodwill of Orange County fired the employee who was publishing Camgirls Gone Wild.
posted by rcade at 2:00 PM on February 27, 2002


10 years ago, I got abruptly fired from a job for essentially a bad attitude and poor co-worker relations. The only difference is that I popped off directly to the boss :-)

While things weren't great for awhile after that, this event was actually a godsend: It forced me to take a hard look at my behavior, attitudes, ways of relating with others, etc. I had alot of growing up to do, and I've since made the necessary changes.

No one wants to be around someone who is perpetually complaining, pouting, or acting put-upon.
posted by xena at 2:08 PM on February 27, 2002


I avoid even mentioning my former employers by name anywhere online. I am sure there are instances where I have, but I tend to not do it.

Is it right to fire someone because of what they wrote in their weblog? I don't know. It depends. It's difficult to establish a free speech issue surrounding a work problem because as an American employee you have fewer rights than you do as an American citizen. Getting snarky about your co-workers on a public site doesn't seem smart, but on the other hand this is a rather slippery slope. What if I worked for Intel, but I maintained a web site about AMD processors, insinuating that they were superior to Intel chips? Or what if I wrote about problems in my weblog and my insurance company acted on those issues? Say I mention in my weblog that I tried to commit suicide or that I smoke 2 packs of cigarettes a day. My insurer could drop me over that I bet.

It seems to me that there are larger issues at stake. What if you apply for a job and your potential employer finds out that you, say, have cancer from your weblog? The employer could cite other reasons for not hiring you, but the real reason could be that they don't want to deal with someone who takes a couple weeks off every few months for the latest round of chemotherapy.

The moral of the story is: even if you write your web site under an anonymous nickname there are ways to find out who you are. Someone with enough at stake will do that sort of legwork.
posted by xyzzy at 2:09 PM on February 27, 2002


Again, sjc, it's all a matter of how you look at it, which was my point. It wasn't the use of Asian that was problematic, it was the way she conveyed how he spoke (#12) within the context of her use of "Asian."

Sure, in the best of all worlds we should have thicker skins, treat people more kindly, etc. But, as we all know, this isn't the best of all worlds.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 2:10 PM on February 27, 2002


Norton: Then how do you account for those who named names at the HUAC hearings, in which the names of people were those that the informer had never met or known, and whose lives and careers were destroyed as a result? Nah, any way you slice the cheese, rodents, I say!

Centrs: There's a major difference between giving your all on the job and what you do in your personal time. Loyalty ends when you punch out. Is there any real evidence that Heather did not even try to get along with her co-workers? We don't know that. And even so, there are some work situations in which it's hate at first sight for no good reason at all. That's just the way life is. For all we know, these were exaggerated posts of real incidents, an attempt at humor to deal with stress. Some co-worker failed to communicate their feelings about it, instead opting to rat her out anonymously. This is something that happens all the time. Hell hath no greater fury than the spurred co-worker who doesn't even bother to talk about the situation with the presumed guilty party.

If it boils down to a blogger grabbing an AK-47 and going on a killing spree, gunning down her fellow co-workers, or simply writing about their posts, I'd rather see more of the latter.
posted by ed at 2:27 PM on February 27, 2002


Matt,

As to being afraid to post things here because of how they might reflect on me. I am very conscious of what I post here. At Metafilter, I don't hide behind a 'mystery' name, and anyone who follows my profile will directly be led to my identity.

A couple of weeks ago, I avoided posting certain comments on the Laid Off Worker thread, because I knew that I would never want the comments traced to me.

However, on Fark.com, I purposely obfuscate my identity.
posted by patrickje at 2:33 PM on February 27, 2002


ed, i guess we can agree to disagree. i still love you. :)
posted by centrs at 2:39 PM on February 27, 2002


"How afraid are you of posting here, for fear of google putting it on your "permanent record?"

Not very, seeing as my name isn't dong resin and while that is a real picture of me on my profile, you'd probably not be able to pick me out of crowd with it.
Putting things on the web is a form of broadcasting. It may be a really limited audience, but we're just a Kevin Bacon or two away from each other.

People seem to forget the Pump Up The Volume rule of broadcasting : It doesn't have to be you to do your speaking for you.
Owillis could be 5 foot 80 pound asian guy, I wouldn't know, or need to know the difference.
posted by dong_resin at 2:47 PM on February 27, 2002


ed - Then how do you account for those who named names at the HUAC hearings, in which the names of people were those that the informer had never met or known, and whose lives and careers were destroyed as a result?

No ratting involved in the scenario you've described. Witchhunts are not about finding actual conspirators, they're about finding scapegoats.

That doesn't make what the namers did good or admirable, but it doesn't make it ratting either.
posted by NortonDC at 2:53 PM on February 27, 2002


There is so much to reiterate and rebuke in this thread that it's hard to begin. (And even though it's almost tapped out, I have an analogy worth sharing.)

Let's try this in a different context: Say you stood on the street corner in front of your office, and yelled at the top of your lungs all day, "My boss is a lunatic! My Asian IT guy speaks funny!"

Would you expect to keep your job? Probably not. You might not get arrested, and if you did you could probably cite the First Amendment, but your employer wouldn't bother to keep you around.

Is the offense less if you don't name names? No. Because:

Did you implicitly identify your boss and IT guy because of your own identity, which is easily discerned? Yes. Does that make it libel? Maybe, maybe not, but it's still gonna get you fired.

My boss and my coworkers read my weblog. They don't mention it to me much, but I know they're there, which is fine with me--flattering, even. As a result, I wouldn't be so stupid as to post something slanderous on my site, even if it's quasi-anonymous.

Just because Heather's not naming names doesn't mean she's not exposing the office. Anyone who's been by for a sales meeting or an interview or to visit a friend can probably ID the persons mentioned. That makes her weblog an offense to her employer, which is why they chose to let her go.

Could she have been warned first? Absolutely. But perhaps she had, and didn't share it on her weblog, or didn't realize that a passing comment some time back was supposed to be taken more seriously. Regardless, making nasty caricatures of your colleagues behind their backs is a poor job-security plan.

In a public forum one has to watch one's mouth. I've had an aggravating moment or two finding old flames I wrote and coming to the sudden realization that I am stuck with those fleeting negative definitions of oneself. For better or worse, the nasty and equally shameful retorts to one's missteps also linger on, no matter how nice it would be to eliminate them.

The Internet has a long memory. We should know that by now.
posted by werty at 3:04 PM on February 27, 2002


How afraid are you of posting here, for fear of google putting it on your "permanent record?

Over the last few months, I've gotten a lot more careful about what I'm willing to reveal online. I'd describe the reasoning and situation, but I have a pending court case against a former employer that makes this unwise for at least a couple more months.

I post less here than I would talk in a normal conversation for that very reason though. I have opinions about a lot of threads that I don't comment on, but a lot of the time, I end up being happy I didn't post the comment that I would write.

On this whole Heather thing. All I will say is that, I've had employees who had negative postings on their sites about their job. What happens after the posts are discovered is all about the relationship between the employee and the manager. In my case, I took these posts as a warning sign that I needed to get with that person and find a way to make them happier. In a couple of cases, this didn't actually involve sitting down with that person and talking things out, it was obvious what I could do to make things better, or that I couldn't make things better for this person, as rotten as it seemed. So, to me, the fact that they used this situation to let her go points to a bigger problem in her relationship with them. She's obviously quite talented, and managers have to take some level of responsibility for nourishing their people.
posted by bump at 3:17 PM on February 27, 2002


Flat-out: Her posts about her cow-orkers are not anonymous. They may be anonymous to us, but how well we can personally identify them is a side issue at best. We may not know what company she worked for or who "Asian Database Administrator" is, but everyone in her department does now, if not her entire company (depending on its size). And it's virutally certain that this has turned the entire dynamics of that office upside down. ADA and "clueless tech producer" are probably at the very least incredibly embarrassed and paranoid about what everyone else in the office thinks about them now, and also incredibly angry. The Prada-ordering administrator is also hurt, probably worried about his/her own bosses finding out and possibly having it effect his/her job ... all these things have taken what was probably at least a decently-functioning office (if someone dysfunctional in its interpersonal relationships, but what office isn't to some extent) and turned it on its ear. And you can be damn sure that this has caused overall office productivity to take a dive, which means it's directly affecting the company's bottom line. And there is hardly a better reason to fire a person than for causing enough damage in the office to negatively affect its ability to function. That right there is all the legal (and arguably moral) reason they needed to fire her on the spot.

As for the points made here that "Happy Hour is the place to talk about such things," I think you guys are being awfully naive on that point, unless you are absolutely certain that every person you're bringing into such after-work bitching sessions is 100% trustworthy. I have complained about certain aspects of my job over drinks with supposedly-trustable friends from work, and then had my boss show up at my desk at work a few days later and repeat my comments to me word for word. I think those of your doing the after-hours moan-and-groan are putting yourselfs at almost as much risk in today's backstabbing society as Heather did.

Finally: I think the best move for Heather would be to try and get a writing job somewhere. Web design is almost dead as a career option these days anyway, unless you're one of the absolute cream of the crop. And while I have no idea where her design work "ranks" in the design community, I do know she's a funny writer.
posted by aaron at 3:33 PM on February 27, 2002


dhartung: Robert Toups! I'm still trying to recover from seeing the nude image of him in Wired with a keyboard over his groin.

Damn, does THAT bring back memories! I wonder whatever happened to him.

I could start blocking user profiles from being indexed by google, I've had about 3-4 people email me personally to change their usernames, or delete their accounts altogether, due to google tracing their real identity to their profile here.

Yes, Matt, I think you should block all spiders from the user profile pages, and also ask Google to remove the profiles pages that are currently indexed there. I think that would solve 99% of the problem, except for those who use logon names here that match the names of their blogs. And in such cases, I think you should be willing to to a mass, across-the-board username change for those that request it; that is, not just change their name but also run a script of some sort to go through all threads and change the names in the posts as well ... if that's possible, anyway. At least you ought to consider it in cases where posters have a reason to believe they're in imminent danger of losing a job, or not getting a job they have a shot at, because of anything they may have said or done here. Helping protext human livelihoods are worth it, IMHO.
posted by aaron at 3:43 PM on February 27, 2002


My boss tells me I need to project happiness at all times because people complain about me being mean. He's even given me qualified performance reviews based on that. I only enforce site rules, and boy do I get tired of having no backup in the front office to help keep those rules. It sucks having to pretend to be a happy worker bee all the time, but posting about how "awful life at work is" on a weblog, hardly an anonymous medium, is just a career suicide move in my opinion - I'd never do it. I don't know that anyone I work with ever reads any weblogs, let alone this one, but it would give me cause for concern if I had ever posted anything more negative than what I posted above!
posted by Lynsey at 3:57 PM on February 27, 2002


And in such cases, I think you should be willing to to a mass, across-the-board username change for those that request it; that is, not just change their name but also run a script of some sort to go through all threads and change the names in the posts as well ... if that's possible, anyway

Since everything is in the database, this is fairly easy to do, and I've done it before, due to some incidents with job-related problems and stalking issues.
posted by mathowie at 4:00 PM on February 27, 2002


My two cents:

I enjoy reading Heather Hamilton's weblog.

But I definitely dont blame her employers for firing her. Independent of the morality of the snitching by one of her co-workers - the act of reporting itself created a situation that needed to be dealth with. Once, more than one person in that office knew about her weblog, I think it can be assumed that eventually everyone would have. It could create major interpersonal problems in a small office and could impact productivity in a big way. The easiest solution is to remove the source of all that tension. Which is what they did.

Considering the quality of her website - I am sure she could be better utilized by her company - which apparently was a creative shop. But if her company had only around 30 employees, as she claimed in her post, it would have been pretty difficult to manage the relationship issues after the fact.

Some people said that she should have tried being more constructive about the workplace problems. Even if we assume that she was not a habitual cribber and had real workplace issues, it is not always easy to approach one's boss and sort out one's problems in the workplace. what if the boss is not the best possible person and you know that the boss would react negatively? One doesnt really know. We dont work there. Bitching about work is one time honoured way of venting one's frustration.

But bitching about one's colleagues on one's weblog - as many pointed out- is a foolish thing to do. I agree that it is sad that one can't do that with impugnity. But that is part of the price that we pay for living in an organized society, for working in an organization. Once you get out of college, all bets are off.

There are a lot of rules of engagement that are not necessarily fair, but which maintains the sanity of everyday life. The fact that we can not shout obscenities about our co-workers from the rooftop (the thinly veiled references to her co-workers can easily be construed thus) is one of those rules of engagement. Break them by all means. But you may need to pay a price eventually.

That 'Asian database administrator' stuff hit kinda close to home. I too may make a stray remark occasionally that other people may consider offensive. I guess it could be one of those. But there is a huge difference between words spoken in the privacy of your home and written words committed for all eternity. Words - specially written words have power beyond the grave. The web may seem to be an intimate medium. But it is - as we all know - a very public forum. It is naive to assume otherwise.

I forget the name of the weblog. But a few months back, an XML developer was sacked because of what he wrote on his weblog. It was a haunting passage about addiction. About what it means to be addicted. He has by then been cured of his addiction to Nicotine & alcohal. But his office apparently laid him off because of the buzz created by it. I felt a real sense of outrage. I felt really good when he found a job almost immediately (slashdot works!). I feel a little sad for Dooce. But I dont feel the same sense of outrage.
posted by justlooking at 4:05 PM on February 27, 2002


Cool, Matt.
posted by aaron at 4:06 PM on February 27, 2002


I think we all would be very interested in hearing Heather's comments on this. I'm not sure that she would respond to this group, but Matt any chance you would let her post in here? I assume she's not registered or some savvy mefier would have already pointed that out.
posted by jonah at 4:06 PM on February 27, 2002


Kaushik: DiveIntoMark was fired for his essay on addiction.

Maybe there should be a weblog for this sort of thing.
posted by dhartung at 4:39 PM on February 27, 2002


Anyone stupid enough to post as much as she did, letting us know how she blows off entire days from working, what little she thinks of her coworkers, etc., deserves it. Every single bit of it. And she knows it, too.

There's no surprise here. She couldn't have been surprised, unless she was stupid (which she didn't appear to be).

She has pictures of her office party on her site. They have names and faces of her coworkers. I hardly think there was all that much anonymous about what she was doing.

If I hire an employee, I expect that person to come to work, on time, do their work, and leave when they're supposed to. I don't expect attitude, I don't expect someone who thinks they know better than everyone else, and guess what? As the employer, I don't have to take any of that shit. There are 100 other very competent, creative folks who are waiting in line for that very same position in this economy.

That's why people go into business for themselves -- they just aren't "team players." That's fine. But have some freakin' insight and take responsibility for one's actions. Don't sit there and whine that they finally found out what a real shit you are.
posted by yarf at 4:53 PM on February 27, 2002


I wish that the higher ups would see that Heather is a star and give her her own talk show or have her host the Tonight Show, just like what happened to Brodie Bruce in Mallrats.
posted by rathikd at 5:08 PM on February 27, 2002


This is why I've never come right out and said where I work and why I'm grateful none of my superiors read this site.
posted by jonmc at 5:41 PM on February 27, 2002


I'd be vaguely interested too in Heather's response to this thread, but more interested in finding out who her employer is. Just so that, if ever I had a chance to do business with them, I could tell 'em they were fired, because of some stuff I read on some website.

Here's hoping she goes psychotically vindictive and posts anything and everything she ever held back about the company. I'm staying tuned, anyway.
posted by Sapphireblue at 5:43 PM on February 27, 2002


Oddly enough, Heather has her own forum for discussing her situation - it's called dooce.com. I doubt there exists a need to come rushing over here to, of all things, explain herself to a bunch of accusatory, haughty hyprocrites.

I imagine a group of executives and managers reading these replies and dancing around in a circle, gleefully: "It's working! It's working! We've made the worker bees too afraid to express themselves! They will toe the line no matter what. They will turn themselves into automotons for us and call it 'loyalty' - is this a great racket or what?"

And I doubt that any of you have managed to make the obvious connection between the increasing corporatization of the United States and this loyal-mindless-worker attitude you claim to espouse.

Well done.
posted by gsh at 5:44 PM on February 27, 2002


And I doubt that any of you have managed to make the obvious connection between the increasing corporatization of the United States and this loyal-mindless-worker attitude you claim to espouse.

Don't bet on it, gsh. I think all these folks are saying is that given the pictures and whatnot on her site she can't claim that her blog was as "anonymous" as it seems, which leaves her wide open to accusations of libel, etc.

I've both defended and attacked companies I've worked for in online forums(I even attemped to unionize one using the internet as my main tool. They didn't try to fire me and if they did, I would've dragged their asses into court and won.
So, believe me, while I'm not especially thrilled about this action, she wasn't organizing, merely bitching, but using certain identifiers, which puts it all in a rather murky legal area.
posted by jonmc at 6:01 PM on February 27, 2002


I imagine a group of executives and managers reading these replies and dancing around in a circle, gleefully

You have an overactive imagination.
posted by kindall at 6:35 PM on February 27, 2002


heather responds.
posted by moz at 7:45 PM on February 27, 2002


And I doubt that any of you have managed to make the obvious connection between the increasing corporatization of the United States and this loyal-mindless-worker attitude you claim to espouse.

Actually, she has far more rights to do what she did in the US than in many (most?) other countries. For example, n many other places, the truth of what she said in her blog would be irrelevant. If there was any possible way Asian Database Administrator and Clueless Tech Producer could be identified and they were all in England, for example, they would have an actionable libel/slander claim against her no matter what, because there's no reason for her to have written what she wrote, except to embarrass them. That's illegal there.

Oh, and what Kindall said.
posted by aaron at 9:16 PM on February 27, 2002


Perhaps this should be sent to her co-workers?
posted by Yardsale at 9:37 PM on February 27, 2002


I made a conscious decision when I conceived dooce.com that I would never bow to the intimidation of others, including employers or pussy-ass cocksmacks who think I should just stop complaining and be a good worker bee already.

Have a nice life collecting unemployment, Heather!
posted by milnak at 10:20 PM on February 27, 2002


If she was fired, rather than laid off, she probably won't get unemployment.
posted by kindall at 11:01 PM on February 27, 2002


"Take it up the ass and bleed. "

Why, I hope the MetaFilter tee-shirt slogan thing is still going on. Be a shame to miss that.
posted by dong_resin at 11:40 PM on February 27, 2002


Remember kids: talking shit about your coworkers on your blog without telling them is really, really brave.

Even braver if you let the coworkers you like in on it while continuing to ridicule others behind their back.
posted by NortonDC at 3:49 AM on February 28, 2002


"Anyone stupid enough to post as much as she did, letting us know how she blows off entire days from working, what little she thinks of her coworkers, etc., deserves it. Every single bit of it. And she knows it, too. "

Provided you view the blog as an absolute truth and not writing for the sake of writing, expressing, amplifying, working it out etc.

So just what is a blog? Total truth viewed only as truth? Is there no room for anything else? I dont see what Heather posted as total truth, 80% of it is creativie writing and poking holes at life as it goes by but if you read her blog as total truth, well then i guess ya fire her and everyone else on the planet.
posted by drock at 4:48 AM on February 28, 2002


When you agree to work for a corporation, you lose a few constitutional rights. That's all. You can't engage in parody. Scott Adams had a little talk with his boss as well, and agreed to be laid off if they needed to let someone go. And then he mercilessly mocked the guy in his strips for years.

I don't quite understand the connection between her weblog and her issues with BYU or the mormon church. How much longer does she get to blame them for her misery? Is it anything like being a recovering catholic?
posted by mecran01 at 5:42 AM on February 28, 2002


Provided you view the blog as an absolute truth and not writing for the sake of writing, expressing, amplifying, working it out etc.

If you need to write, fine. But you don't need to publish, and that is the very big difference. Blogs can be private, or hell, put it in an old-fashioned journal with pages.
posted by yarf at 5:50 AM on February 28, 2002


Unemployment compensation rules vary from state to state, but it's certainly possible -- in some cases -- to collect unemployment when you've been fired. It depends on what you were fired for and how it was handled. In this case, I'd guess that she could collect. The employer didn't give her a warning that her job was on the line and didn't give her a way to remedy the situation. Also, from what she says in her most recent entry, she wasn't fired for performance reasons. It sounds like the CEO wanted to make an example of her.

I think everything she says has to be taken cum grano salis, but it doesn't sound like they handled the whole thing very well or that it's an enlightened work environment. She's probably better off finding a job somewhere else.

That said, she does seem to have a really bad attitude. People who don't understand the difference between politeness and "living in fear" tend not to be pleasant folks to have around.
posted by anapestic at 5:52 AM on February 28, 2002


From Heather's response post:

I refuse to live in fear. I refuse to be censored. I've lived my life far too long in fear of disrupting expectations. I made a conscious decision when I conceived dooce.com that I would never bow to the intimidation of others, including employers or pussy-ass cocksmacks who think I should just stop complaining and be a good worker bee already.

For someone who just lost her job under accusations of slander and insubordination, this is a poor way to defend innocence and enter the job market. Sort of proves all the points in this thread about why her firing was justified.
posted by werty at 6:48 AM on February 28, 2002


pussy-ass cocksmacks??

Did she have an editorial position there?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:07 AM on February 28, 2002


She says "The Asian Database Administrator who often served as the subject of ridicule on dooce.com was one of my good friends at the company that fired me. He was fully aware that I was writing stray missives at his expense, and on several occasions he helped me write characterizations of himself. It was a joke shared between friends, and he was a willing participant. He thought it was funny. That was all that mattered to me. If you think it was racist, you have your own problems. Go and read someone else's blog."



Heather, if you're reading this, take a relook at Proper way to hate a job Why go honk your horn at people in a quiet Jewish neighborhood when you are feeling angry at your workplace? Take a second look at Allergic to Korea . Think about it.


posted by mikojava at 9:27 AM on February 28, 2002


"happy cog worker" and "totally disaffected employee who refuses to do much more than spew vitriol" are not the only options available to folks.

As for Heather's response... well, if it was just for laughs, then the joke's on her.

I wish her the best of luck, though, finding a job... her talent as a writer shines through in her blog, so she definitely has something to offer a prospective employer.

She should hope, though, that they don't google her name. Can't imagine that much of what she says on her blog will fit in the "plays well with others" column.
posted by silusGROK at 9:44 AM on February 28, 2002


For someone who just lost her job under accusations of slander and insubordination, this is a poor way to defend innocence and enter the job market. Sort of proves all the points in this thread about why her firing was justified.

Wrong, wrong, so-wrong.

1. Read her original post about her firing. She didn't even make a paltry attempt at "defending innocence" (what the hell is that, anyway? does it have to do with The Children?). She said, as pointed out above, that she'd made her bed and would lie in it.

2. And where, exactly, is the proof of what? That's a hell of a logical leap. Minus the logic.

Could it be that you cogs with your pantyhose and your cravats of subservience simply don't get that for some people, a temporary interruption of The Almighty Steady Paycheck is not the end of the world? That there are people who need to feel they're staying true to themselves in some abstract way, and who accept calmly and rationally that that'll make their lives a little more rocky sometimes?

I don't know Heather, but I bet all the finger-waggling happening in this thread is *so* wasted on her. It assumes a set of priorities and values that, news flash, I don't think she shares with you people.

Which doesn't make you better than her. Only different. Unsaddle from your high horses, already.
posted by Sapphireblue at 10:03 AM on February 28, 2002


If Heather is all about keeping it real, she sure seems to wish she still had the job.

As long as we're conjecturing wildly and filling in the holes with our own job experiences, I think a lot of the bluster on Dooce today is false bravado, and she'd gladly take a few sips from the cravat of subservience if it meant remaining employed.

When I was fired from a programming job I complained about as much as Heather does on Dooce, it bothered the hell out of me for years. You have to invest a lot of passion in a place to document its flaws -- and flawed people -- in loving detail.
posted by rcade at 10:41 AM on February 28, 2002


Hmm ... where did I get the idea that a cravat was one of those giant brandy snifters?
posted by rcade at 10:49 AM on February 28, 2002


Hmm ... where did I get the idea that a cravat was one of those giant brandy snifters?
posted by rcade at 10:50 AM on February 28, 2002


Jeez, I can't believe Heather was becanned for such tame analysis. When I was fired from Collegeclub.com, I'd been sure to put some real acid in my journal and tell a horrible coworker off loudly over the telephone.

Read, for example, this entry where I decribe overhearing the CEO (Michael Pousti) taking a shit:

http://www.spies.com/~gus/ran/0001/000118.htm
posted by vodkatea at 11:11 AM on February 28, 2002


I want a cravat of subservience. It would make Mistress soo happy.
posted by rodii at 11:15 AM on February 28, 2002


Could it be that you cogs with your pantyhose and your cravats of subservience simply don't get that for some people, a temporary interruption of The Almighty Steady Paycheck is not the end of the world? That there are people who need to feel they're staying true to themselves in some abstract way, and who accept calmly and rationally that that'll make their lives a little more rocky sometimes?

I don't know Heather, but I bet all the finger-waggling happening in this thread is *so* wasted on her. It assumes a set of priorities and values that, news flash, I don't think she shares with you people.

Which doesn't make you better than her. Only different. Unsaddle from your high horses, already.


Oh, bravo! Call people "cogs", talk about "cravats of subservience", and then talk about other people on their high horses. I'm sorry, Sapphireblue, but you should consider taking your own advice. All your post lacked was "You'll Never Walk Alone" as a soundtrack.
posted by anapestic at 11:50 AM on February 28, 2002


rcade, maybe you were thinking "carafe"? Although, in the case of brandy, I think "snifter" works better.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 11:55 AM on February 28, 2002


ooof! the difference is that my tongue was firmly in my cheek. emoticons optional. whereas the "the brutally honest deserve everything they get" crowd seems, incredibly, dead serious.

I'm not familiar with "You'll Never Walk Alone" but I'm sure it's put me well in my place.
posted by Sapphireblue at 11:59 AM on February 28, 2002


That's easily remedied, Sapphireblue.
posted by crunchland at 12:15 PM on February 28, 2002


r0x0r. thanks, crunch.

I'm gonna download that and play it right now, here at my office, to prove how punk-rock I am.
posted by Sapphireblue at 12:27 PM on February 28, 2002


um.. well, I'm not so sure about that last part.
posted by crunchland at 12:31 PM on February 28, 2002


I'm not familiar with "You'll Never Walk Alone" but I'm sure it's put me well in my place.

Umm, sorry. I missed the tongue-in-cheek thing, but, you know, people get so serious here.

As for "You'll Never Walk Alone," I think it's originally from Carousel, but you can substitute anything excessively noble sung by a full-figured operatic soprano with a far away look in her eye and get the same effect.
posted by anapestic at 12:32 PM on February 28, 2002


... never mind. there's nothing punk-rock about that song. my boss has an MP3 of "Take This Job and Shove It" that will work better in this context. But he has requested I find out who's doing the vocals on that ... touching little number.

anapestic: you mean you took *cravats of subservience* seriously? fer real? ought, perhaps, to loosen yours. insert emoticon here.
posted by Sapphireblue at 12:38 PM on February 28, 2002


...he has requested I find out who's doing the vocals on that ... touching little number.

Why, it's the incomparable Rafael Brom, of course.
posted by crunchland at 12:44 PM on February 28, 2002


heh. that photo is comic genius! speaking of cravats, someone really steered poor Mr. Brom wrong on his. thanks again, crunchland; you have brought productivity in my office to a screeching halt. But in the best way possible.

you guys can have your thread back now.
posted by Sapphireblue at 12:54 PM on February 28, 2002


anapestic: you mean you took *cravats of subservience* seriously? fer real? ought, perhaps, to loosen yours. insert emoticon here.

Only eight more hours until casual Friday!
posted by anapestic at 1:13 PM on February 28, 2002


Incidentally, this thread is currently number sixty-six at BlogDex...
posted by feelinglistless at 4:28 PM on February 28, 2002


Regarding Jobs and What to Do With Them
Johnny Paycheck has a suggestion
the Dead Kennedys have a variation
and Wesley Willis tangentially associates
posted by ovrflt at 12:05 AM on March 1, 2002


So where did Heather work, anyway? And would any of you want to work there?
posted by mecran01 at 9:02 AM on March 1, 2002


I hear they have an opening.
posted by rodii at 10:51 AM on March 1, 2002


Heh heh.
posted by mecran01 at 5:56 AM on March 4, 2002



As of today, 22 April, 2002, I will no longer be updating this website, dooce.com. There are several reasons that have led me to this decision, the biggest of which is that this website has caused more damage and sorrow to my personal life than it has good.
I can't take it anymore.


Dooce shut down last week. There is a bit more at the site as for the reason, but not much. Shame.
posted by lampshade at 2:49 PM on April 29, 2002


Someone tell us the secret new location.
posted by mecran01 at 6:51 AM on May 14, 2002


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