How NOT to get rich, part 2

One of my earliest posts was on how NOT to get rich by attempting to catch money flying around on the freeway. Here's another one: don't write a book about your job if you know it's going to get you in trouble. Blogging about the workplace anonymously is dangerous enough, and when your name is plastered on printed volumes that are readily available at the bookstore near you, you're just asking for it. This one is mainly for my lawyer friends out there, but you don't need to take Ethical Lawyering to know that it's a stupid career move.

If the link expires by the time you get to read this, here's the low down: a California prosecutor got disqualified in a drug-and-rape trial. Why? Because she was accused of using the case to promote her novel, which has a plot too similar for comfort. Lawyers in the private sector have to follow certain rules before writing their books, and government lawyers are held to an even higher standard.

The drama is kinda entertaining, but needless to say, the court was not amused.


Stacie said...

Something similar also happened to someone who my sister knows. She and two other people wrote obituaries for a newspaper and also had a blog called 'obitches' or something like that. They wrote about work and they were either fired from their jobs because of it, or they quit when they found out they would be fired. Work is often funny to write about, but the whole thing is very dangerous.

Sales Rack Raider said...

Yeah, it's surprising how many people get in trouble for it. One of my friends recently wrote a law review article on the subject...should be a fascinating read when I have the time.

It's an especially sensitive problem for anyone in a fiduciary position. When I talk about work, I don't discuss specifics of what I do. The last thing I want to do is blow a privilege and screw over a client.

andrea said...

i think i'm the "obitch" to whom stacie is referring to.

here's the story...started obitches.com in spring of 2006 with obituary department coworker. no big deal. coworker left, and former coworker (who stole from the company and spent lots of time on myspace) was hired back -- and eventually asked to leave. her internet activity, among other things, raised suspicion in management, who began monitoring the department.

after vacation, i was pulled into a meeting with my boss, 2 HR reps, as well as my union rep...was questioned for about an hour, was told that they didn't like the name of the blog, that i was exploiting my position as an obituarist to further outside activities, and that it was against company policy to access the internet for more than 5 minutes a day for personal use (tell that to everyone else).

i had made the mistake of posting on the blog from work during a slow saturday, about work. BIG MISTAKE. but told them i would never do it again, and would take the piece, which was complimentary, off the site. that wasn't good enough.

management didn't know how they were going to discipline me -- but it was going to be more than a written notice, to which my union rep said that they had no grounds and were using me as an example.

in protest to how the meeting was conducting -- coupled with the fact that i only worked 15 hours per week -- and that i knew it would screw them more to have me walk out on memorial day weekend (a big day for obituaries), i quit on the spot.

i haven't written anything directly about work as a result. dooce.com is a good source of what it's like to get fired for a blog.

we live in a complicated time. but that doesn't mean i'm going to shut my mouth -- or stop writing about it however i see fit.



Sales Rack Raider said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Andrea. Sorry to hear that you were treated like that. I could understand why companies have policies about blogging activities, but things are often so unclear or arbitrary that it ends up killing the freedom of expression.