Ottawa, January 24, 2008 – Web 2.0
favourites such as MySpace, Facebook, Wikipedia and web logs (or
"blogs") have revolutionized the way people use the
Internet. They have also cost companies hundreds of millions of
dollars in productivity and raised the stakes in managing trade
secrets and confidential information. They have even resulted in
terminations and lawsuits in Canada and the United States.
Most notably, the Web 2.0 phenomenon has caused a paradigm shift
in the multi-billion dollar world of advertising. Brand names and
images can now be tarnished by employees for all the world to see.
Mary Gleason and Anthony Moffatt of Ogilvy Renault's
Employment and Labour Group talked to Ottawa employers today about
how companies can address these issues.
"The law of Web 2.0 in the workplace is the latest example
of how the law can lag behind technology. Decisions are only
starting to emerge," says Gleason, partner in Ogilvy
Renault's Employment and Labour Group. "This makes
many employers anxious—indications are that Web 2.0 is
fast becoming a new legal battleground for employers and
One of the biggest challenges employers face is dealing with
employees' off-duty use of Web 2.0. What can an employer do
when an employee posts critical comments about their company on
their own time and personal computer? Indications are that
employers may have cause for discipline if the information is:
defamatory of the company or a co-worker
constitutes harassment of a co-worker
insubordinate, insolent, or breaches an employee's
obligation of loyalty and fidelity
damaging to the company's reputation
"Employers can protect themselves against Web 2.0 misuse in
several ways," notes Gleason. "Installing
'blocker' software on workplace computers is a good
start. So is informing employees that Web 2.0 posts can affect the
company and their careers. Employers can also implement written
policies and learn the legitimate grounds for discipline for Web
Looking forward, Gleason suspects that Web 2.0 employment law
will begin to reflect the attitudes of today's younger
generation that will grow up with the technology. This might create
a new set of challenges for employers.
About Ogilvy Renault's Employment and Labour
Ogilvy Renault's employment and labour lawyers are
recognized as innovators in their field and are known across Canada
for their expertise and effective representation of management in
all work-related issues. The Employment and Labour Group was
recently recognized by The Chambers Global Guide as
practicing a "tier one" employment and labour practice.
Ogilvy Renault is proud to serve many of the country's most
successful employers in various sectors of the economy.
About Ogilvy Renault
Ogilvy Renault LLP is a full-service law firm with close to 450
lawyers and patent and trade-mark agents practicing in the areas of
business, litigation, intellectual property, and employment and
labour. Ogilvy Renault has offices in Montréal, Ottawa,
Québec, Toronto, and London (England), and serves some of
the largest and most successful corporations in Canada and in more
than 120 countries worldwide. Find out more at
Ogilvy Renault is the International Legal Alliance's
Canadian Gold Award winner for 2008 in M&A and Corporate
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