14 Jan 2005
Let this be a warning to all
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Blogger sacked for sounding off
Waterstone's says bookseller brought firm into disrepute
Wednesday January 12, 2005
Former Waterstone's employee Joe Gordon. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod
A bookseller has become the first blogger in Britain to be sacked from his job because he kept an online diary in which he occasionally mentioned bad days at work and satirised his "sandal-wearing" boss.
Joe Gordon, 37, worked for Waterstone's in Edinburgh for 11 years but says he was dismissed without warning for "gross misconduct" and "bringing the company into disrepute" through the comments he posted on his weblog.
Published authors and some of the 5 million self-published bloggers around the globe said it was extraordinary that a company advertising itself as a bastion of freedom of speech had acted so swiftly to sack Mr Gordon, who mentions everything from the US elections to his home city of Edinburgh in the satirical blog he writes in his spare time.
Mr Gordon, a senior bookseller who rarely mentioned work in his blog and did not directly identify his branch of Waterstone's, said he had offered to stop posting anything about his working life online when the company called a disciplinary meeting. According to his union, Waterstone's rejected his plea despite it not having any guidelines on whether its employees are allowed to keep weblogs.
"This wasn't a sustained attack," Mr Gordon told the Guardian. "I was not deliberately trying to harm the company. I was venting my spleen.
"This was moaning about not getting your birthday off or not getting on with your boss. I wasn't libelling anyone or giving away trade secrets."
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