To Blog, or to Bank?


For anyone who wonders why I, and others, write under faux names on our blogs, Twitter accounts, and so forth, here is another case of someone being canned over it. From New York magazine:

Woman Torn Between Unpaid Historical-Fiction Blogging and Job at Chase

It’s a tiny little article so I don’t dare quote it here and run afoul of copyright, but in a nutshell, Marilyn Tagocon writes a still-unnamed “historical fiction” blog under a pseudonym. It sounds like she also self-publishes her fiction, and when she for some reason brought this up with her employer, Chase Bank, the HR department essentially told her to cease and desist, or she would be fired. Chase does not allow ‘online personal speeches’ by their employees. Her blog had nothing to do with her day job, or her employer, she was not libeling them or making any comments, good or bad, about them at all. So why do they care? Why? I don’t get it. This isn’t the first case of this I’ve heard of, hence my own pseudonym.

::: sigh ::: I’m getting very very tired of our day-jobs controlling our off-time as well. We have to give them permission to dig into our finances before we can even get hired anymore, and now they are telling us whether we can write on our own time? How is this legal? I hope she’s called the ACLU, and I hope we hear more about this (no, I do not work for Chase, in case anyone is wondering).

 

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17 thoughts on “To Blog, or to Bank?

  1. Woah!!! This has me shaking in anger. It is NONE of their business what their employees do outside of the workplace. What next- checking into their sex lives?

    As for the whole checking one’s financial background thing… one place wanted to do that. I refused saying it was none of their business. Not much later, I was hired at the bookstore which I loved. So it all worked out.

    There has been an alarming level of invasion of privacy lately when it comes to work places and their employees. I also hope she sues and wins bigtime. Maybe that will give employers a hint: “leave your employees alone, unless you want people looking into YOUR activities.”

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  2. It’s infuriating, but if you refuse to allow it, you know they won’t hire you. It’s like what to do when they ask illegal questions. If you don’t answer, you know you won’t get hired. And they ALL do it.

    But this… this is too much. I’d even be willing to contribute to a legal defense fund for this woman. Where does it end? Telling us what sports we’re allowed to engage in? I just don’t understand how this can be legal. She’s not part of the media, which often restricts journalists from attending political rallies in their off-time and things like that (due to the need to appear unbiased, I guess), but what the hell did this have to do with her job in a bank? I’m sure the company will make claims that her firing was due to performance issues, etc. now to try to spin it.

    But this is not the first person I’ve heard of who lost a job because of blogging and/or writing. It’s pretty common for employers now to check up on their employees’ online activities (Facebook page, etc.), and there’s no way to stop that. All you can do is make sure your account is as locked down and private as possible, although with Facebook it seems like nothing is really private.

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  3. Chase is full of sh!t, but I’ll admit that’s one of the reasons that I don’t use my real name on my blog. Hope she sues and gets a big enough settlement to quit and start writing full-time.

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    1. It’s unbelievable, I sure hope they don’t get away with it. I’d love to get a copy of their HR policy and see what else they prohibit employees from doing on their own time, and the exact wording that makes them think they have the right to do this.

      Anyone at Chase willing to spill anonymously?

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  4. p.s. – I couldn’t find it on your Twitter feed – what slang term were you batting around w/Laura Bradford? While we are researching these issues, could you ask your niece how to pronounce “pwned” ?

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    1. ahaha, will do. You know what it means, though, right? Internet slang for ‘owned’, like when you win an argument the kids will say ‘I owned you’. According to the Urban Dictionary it is “A corruption of the word “Owned.” This originated in an online game called Warcraft, where a map designer misspelled “owned.” I’m not sure it’s actually meant to be pronounced.

      Laura Bradford was reading a manuscript that used the term ‘fine’ to describe a hot guy. She thought it was way outdated and wanted to know if anyone still used it. My niece in NJ says she and her friends still use it, but most others who responded to Laura said “NO ONE says that anymore!” Lucky for me my niece is nearly always connected to her FB account 😉

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  5. Yeah, I just learned pwned the other day, but I can’t figure out how to say it!

    I don’t hear the kids saying “fine”much, although everyone understands what you mean if you say “a fine-looking man.” Around here “hot/hottie” seems to be the most common construction, although by the time school starts I’ll bet they’ll be saying something else.

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  6. Well, I’ve never actually heard anyone say it, but in my mind I’ve always sort of pronounced it ‘powned’ like an ‘ou’ as in ‘pounce’. Who knows? Evil Son might know, he’s more into the gaming thing and might have discussed it at some point with his friends.

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    1. Or I’ll ask my nephew, son #2 of drumno5. Bless his goofy brilliant heart, he’s a regular font of geekish information

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      1. After checking in with the resident freshman I was told it is pronounced like “corn PONEd.” And it was derived from the hard-core gamers — the folks who wear head sets to play.

        She also told me that they have an alternative spelling for “newbies.” They are called “noobs” (pronounced like “boobs”) although I thought it would have been spelled as “nubes.” (more like pubes, as in those around puberty.)

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      2. Ah yes, variously spelled n00bs (with zeroes replacing the o’s though it’s hard to tell with this font).

        Wikipedia also gives these alternate spellings: pwnd, pwn’d, pwn3d, pwnt, poned, pawned, or powned, and says the p is silent, you sort of ignore the tail and think of it as an “o”.

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    1. Yeah – most of you know my real name by now, but I like the idea of being able to rattle on about whatever and not worry that one of my students, or co-workers, or neighbors is going to google my name in an idle moment and know everything that is or ever was on my mind. It takes all the fun out of it.

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  7. It wouldn’t matter so much except that time and experience has taught us that there are those out there (employers, for instance) who delve into our personal lives for the sole purpose of doing us harm, finding reasons to not hire/fire us, fuel a lawsuit (maybe a nasty divorce?), and so on. And then there are those of us who simply value our privacy. For everything that I post, there’s very little that’s really personal. That stuff remains confined to my paper-n-pen journals.

    However, as this article has demonstrated, our online life, no matter how innocuous, can blow up in our faces for no good reason. I really cannot fathom Chase’s reasoning in this. And you know, all it will do is make people more careful about divulging personal info (which is probably a good thing. If you ask me the less my co-workers know about me the better). Kind of like the WikiLeaks thing. People assume this will now make governments more transparent, that they’ll quit being so secretive about what they’re up to. No, it won’t. It will make them reassess all their procedures and come up with new and more secure ways of doing business. I can’t even imagine what Chase thinks they accomplished by this move.

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  8. Just great. Now I have to go re-read my employee handbook to see if we have the same paranoid, unconstitutional clause. I don’t think so, but it would be just my luck. (I use my name in my blogs and on all my social media venues.)

    There’s no right way to do a wrong thing and Chase seems to be scared that someone will spill the beans on something wrong. Job security coercion is *not* the path to take, Chase!

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  9. Hi D.J.,

    Thanks for coming by and your comment. There’s so much of this kind of crap out there from employers. It’s really quite amazing what they can get away with. We should probably all be re-reading our employee handbooks. I don’t recall anything similar at my company but who knows what they’ve changed and not bothered to pass on to the rank and file…

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