Boss bids British blogger ‘bye bye’
PARIS ” The 33-year-old British expat in Paris writes under the pseudonym “La Petite Anglaise” and tells of love affairs, single motherhood and office bloopers with self-deprecating, “Bridget Jones”-style humor.
She kept her popular blog anonymous, never revealing her full name or workplace. But despite her attempts at secrecy, her employer found out and fired her ” unusual in labor-protected France, where workers have strong legal protections.
Now she’s suing her employer in a case generating buzz on both sides of the English Channel.
The lawsuit is seen as a test case in France, where there have been few cases of bloggers getting fired, unlike in the United States, where there is even a word for it: getting “dooced,” a reference to the author of http://www.dooce.com, Heather B. Armstrong, who was fired for writing about her colleagues.
The expat in Paris goes only by Catherine and declined to reveal her last name because of the personal tales she recounts on the site, http://www.petiteanglaise.com. She says she was careful never to reveal online the name of the British company she worked for as a bilingual secretary.
Most of her office stories were, she says, “fairly humorous anecdotes about things that happened to me” ” accidentally exposing her cleavage on a video conference screen or tumbling down a staircase. She also poked fun at the office portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.
“I wasn’t describing what my employers did, or disclosing professional secrets or criticizing the firm or anything,” she said in a telephone interview.
Her employers, the accounting firm Dixon Wilson, cited “loss of trust” and said they felt she had damaged their reputation, Catherine said. Though her name was never used online, her photo appear in a French newspaper article about her blog.
The company also pointed out that she had acknowledged lying about absences from work, saying two half-days were for childcare when she was really playing hooky. And she sometimes used her work computer to update her blog ” though she says she only blogged during downtime, when others would write e-mail or read newspapers.
Dixon Wilson did not return several calls seeking comment.
On July 10, Catherine filed a complaint with a workers tribunal, suing for up to two years of salary, or about $110,000.
On her blog, Catherine revealed her predicament this week, describing how she tried to keep up her spirits for her 3-year-old daughter the day she got fired by throwing an impromptu birthday party for a doll.
She had 10,000 hits the day of the announcement, and now she has more than 300 messages from well-wishers.
“What’s the French word for dooced?” one well-wisher wrote. “Maybe you could make one up.”
Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado
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