(continued part 2)
Robert Pritchard, a professor of public relations at Ball State University, said companies and employees need to talk more about the proper use of these new multimedia tools such as e-mail, chat rooms and blogs.
"Employees need to understand what is appropriate to communicate in public and what is not," Pritchard said.
"What's the difference between a public chat room and a letter to the editor, a radio talk show or even talking to your neighbor across the fence?
"Just because it's a new medium doesn't mean it is right."
"It is amazing to me how the business ethics at Kmart works. You steal and rob from the company and you get several million dollars to leave. You keep people informed, who have a right to be informed, about information that is public knowledge and you get the boot."
-- kmfriend, message posted 4:41 p.m. 12/4/2004 on BlueLightEmployees chat room
A small group of bloggers and attorneys is fighting companies it says are becoming too restrictive about their employees' online usage, impinging on people's rights to free speech and privacy.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group of lawyers and volunteers in San Francisco, has helped some bloggers fight lawsuits seeking to reveal their identities. Foundation members argue that the same laws that protect journalists' sources also apply to those of bloggers.
Ellen Simonetti, a Texan also known as "Queen of Sky," is leading the charge. The Delta Air Lines employee started her blog, "Diary of a Flight Attendant," in January 2004 as a form of therapy to help her get over her mother's death.
In October, Delta suspended her from her job of seven years for posting non-offensive pictures of herself in her company uniform on her blog. Today, she is appealing to get her job back, collecting unemployment and updating her blog on a regular basis.
"I think that employers are having knee-jerk reactions to the new technology of blogs. They need to accept this digital revolution and set clear guidelines for what is acceptable for their employees to do or say on the Internet," Simonetti said.
Simonetti has written a bloggers' Bill of Rights, which she hopes will inspire action from online writers and employers. She posted it online this month, and she had already had 10,000 hits on the site and about 80 signatures of support.
"I would say, if you are worried about it, ask your employer before you start blogging," Simonetti said. "And if you think that your blog will be anonymous and will not cause you any problems, be forewarned! Most of the bloggers that have been fired so far were anonymous bloggers, including myself."
Pilgreen still posts regularly on BlueLightEmployees, checking in on distribution center issues here in Canton and other topics.
He doubts Kmart will ever take him back.
"I really don't know what I'm going to do right now," he said.
You can reach Karen Dybis at (313) 222-2319 or [email protected]
. Source: Detroit News research Source: Detroit News research