The first blogger 'dooced' in France

Yesterday, the Daily Telegraph reported that a 33-year-old British secretary working in Paris, France, 'petite anglaise,' had been sacked by her company because of her personal blog. She will sue her employer, British accountancy firm Dixon Wilson, and ask for a financial compensation of up to two years' salary. Read more...

We all know that bloggers can be 'dooced' -- or fired -- because of their blogs. Until now, this was pretty much limited to the U.S. and the UK. But yesterday, the Daily Telegraph reported that a 33-year-old British secretary working in Paris, France, 'petite anglaise,' had been sacked by her company because of her personal blog. She will sue her employer, British accountancy firm Dixon Wilson, and ask for a financial compensation of up to two years' salary. Read more...

Before looking at the Telegraph report, here is how petite anglaise annouced that she was fired.

I was "dooced" today. Suspended without pay, pending a dismissal meeting in ten day’s time. Asked to collect my belongings together and leave the building immediately. The words "faute grave" were used. Translated into English: gross misconduct.

In fact, even if the punishment is largely disproportionate, she was aware of the risks. In October 2004, she wrote about what could happen if her boss was reading her blog. Here is an excerpt of a post titled risky business.

As for my own boss reading this blog? It is my worst fear. He's an expat it the land of the Frogs, as is his wife, so you never know whether one day their internet surfing might wash them up on these shores. I imagine the main issue my employer would have with my blogging would be to establish whether I post on company time.

And this is what she did, at least occasionally, according to Colin Randall, who wrote about 'petite anglaise' both in the Telegraph and in his own blog.

She admits that she sometimes worked on her blog in office time but only when she had no work to do. "Other employees would often read books at their desk if things were quiet."
Catherine[, her Christian name,] also admits twice taking half a day off work, after citing nanny problems, when she had arranged to meet a boyfriend. But she said there had been no complaints about her work.

And Randall adds that she never named her employer. However, But partners at [her company] alleged that she made herself and therefore the firm identifiable by including her own photograph on the weblog. So they sacked her and gave her five minutes to pack her belongings and leave the building where she worked. After the initial shock, she decide to sue her former employer.

Her lawyer has lodged a claim, one of the first of its kind in France, with the prud'hommes -- a French employment tribunal -- claiming compensation of up to two years' pay, or about £54,000.

Will she win? I don't know, but the reasons for firing her seem weak. However, it reminds us that even if you use a pseudonym, it is always better to tell your management that you're having a blog.

Sources: Colin Randall, The Daily Telegraph, July 18, 2006; and various other web sites

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