Nintendo Says Bye to Blogging Beauty over Co-Worker Comments

September 29, 2007 -
A Nintendo contract employee found herself on the unemployment line recently over too-candid blog postings.

As reported by Seattle alternative paper The Stranger, Jessica Zenner was let go by Mario & Co. on August 31st:
Zenner... can now be added to the ever-growing list of casualties in the workplace war on blogs... All they did was participate in the great American pastime: bitching about work

...Zenner says she was never informed of any blog policy at Nintendo, but even so, she wrote under the pen name "Jessica Carr"—although she posted pictures of herself on her site—and never mentioned her employer by name. Somehow, Zenner's bosses at Nintendo still found her site.

Zenner's Inexcusable Behavior blog (NSFW) apparently riled Nintendo executives, in part because of comments Zenner made about co-workers:
She digresses into a wry tirade against one of her bosses: "One plus about working with [a] hormonal, facial-hair-growing, frumpy [woman] is that I have found a new excuse to drink heavily," Zenner writes. "My gut tells me that this woman hasn't been [bleeped] in years.

...Nintendo spokeswoman Perrin Kaplin says Nintendo doesn't bar employees from having blogs, but "we generally don't encourage them." However, contradicting Zenner, Kaplin says, "[Zenner] was expressly discouraged from doing what she did. I've seen everything that she's written and it's really not work appropriate.

Comments

I'm not sure how this is politics, but sure. Standard HR procedure is to ensure contractors and employees aren't dissing their own company. Also, tip to aspiring employees: clean up your current blogs, MySpaces, etc. The smart HR guy checks them before hiring you.

Don't have enough info to say whether or not this was good on Nintendo's part, but hey, this is reality.

No Politivs like Office Politics... :sigh:

I really think this is going too far. Anyone who thinks that an underling hating their boss for whatever reason and subsequently complaining about it is somehow unusual has rose-colored glasses superglued to their eyes.

Names withheld, under an alias, ona private blog? Nintendo should have just kept their noses out of it and their traps shut. I think this is really poor form on their part.

Amendment on my last post, its not the 5th that self incrimnation, its the 4th and 6th amendment that grants you privacy, man Civics was a while ago :P

There's a web site known as www.customerssuck.com .

By some of the logic I see here, every person on the site should lose their job since they can bitch about coworkers on there.

I wouldin't like to have people insult me behind my back so she deserved it.

I hate to break it to you folks, but having worked in the game testing industry some, a "contractor" for Nintendo is most likely someone working in their minimum-wage in-house game testing lab. Everyone there is contractor through an outside service, to avoid certain laws in Washington about mandatory insurance for full-time labor.

It is also this way with the out-of-house testing for Microsoft and Sony.

This post has brought to light previously unthought of concerns in the regards to having a job, having an opinion and having the ability to communicate.

Yes, blogging can be percieved as public...but what if someone comes to misplace a personally written in journal and a tabloid or some other journalist or WHOMEVER finds it, reads it and makes it public? Would the individual whom wrote it be fired then? What if someone overheard you talking to a friend on the phone about a particular nasty situation at work and just-so-happened to see a logo on your shirt?

I can sum up the direct thoughts of all those scenarios and the course of action that could follow them, as well as plenty of others, with two words: Life happens.

In rebuttal to my previous sentence, "Without chaos we have no order and without order, chaos is doomed.".

Unless the lady was blogging from work, passing along company secrets (which, if I read the article correctly, she wasn't), left the sites up on her computer and/or told fellow co-workers about her blog then I can see of no reason as to why action should have been taken against her.

Thoughts, opinions...it all happens. It's life and to be otherwise would be firing ourselves.

If I owned a business, and I discovered an employee was semi-anonymously (It's not just the photograph, she must have told people about her blog, the Internet is too big for some Nintendo exec to just 'stumble across' some completely anonymous blog that happens to have someone's picture in it) saying absolutely horrible things about her co-workers, I'd want to have the right to fire him or her.

If you don't, then it means that you've got a de facto right to harass and abuse co-workers, and create a really negative place to work, basically getting the ability to force someone to quit. Why should co-workers have that ability where employers don't?

It's a free country.
Sadly, it's also (in most places) a 'no-fault' employment country. Which is to say that you can be fired for just about anything but sex, race or religion.

I do, however find that those responsible for grudge-firing someone over what they wrote in their (constitutionally protected, for the time being anyway) newszine.

So, yeah, sad, but I'm on her side -- and any of you that think firing people over their excercise of (constitutionally protected) rights to free speech should take your censoring, prudish, thick skulls to another place to live -- you all make me sick.

So she fucked up...big deal. It's not like she's saying stuff that you all have never thought. Also, to all the gamers in here commenting on her looks, you all have no room to talk. I do think that she said some malicious things, but I don't see how that makes her a "skank".

I guess this means keep your thoughts to yourself. (except to goldfish, they make a great friend to talk to.)

So wait. She bitches constantly, insults the people in the company, and expects to keep her contracting job?

Yeah, right.

You know, if someone posts on a blog, without naming anyone at work, and going under an alias, I do think it's a bit much to fire that person for their opinions. If she had named anyone at Nintendo specifically, or stated where she worked, or even given her real name on the site, I could understand a concern. But right now, it seems more like a personal vindictiveness against her by someone which she vaguely "called out" without naming specifically.

I support free-speech strongly, but you just can't make bad comments about your co-workers without some kind of punishment. Zenner was being a detriment to Nintendo for her comments.

That being said, Zenner's termination was a little too harsh. A public reprimand, administrative leave, or even a public apology would be fine.

@ Xlorep

She never named the company or ther coworkers by name but I think it was the photo that did her in. Once someboy could tie the posts with the company that was it. Then it gets around that she is posting about coworkers, insulting posts at that, it can make for a very uncomfortable work enviroment that is not needed. If she had issues with folks she needed to deal with them directly, not insult and whine about them to the entire world.

It shows very poor tact in my opinion.

Yeah, one should be careful about what one places in the public view.

"I’ve seen everything that she’s written and it’s really not work appropriate."

...Of course it's not work appropriate. It's a BLOG, not an internal memo. Unless she used company resources to write the blog, I don't see how that argument has any merit.

Have there been any employees who have taken their former employers to court over a decision to terminate them based on the content in their blog? If not, I might try bitching about work myself and see if I can't get the ball rolling.

Love this quipp
Nintendo spokeswoman Perrin Kaplin says Nintendo doesn't bar employees from having blogs, but "we generally don't encourage them."
Like work should have that much of a bearing over someone's personal life that they wouldn't have a blog unless it was encouraged.

"I’ve seen everything that she’s written and it’s really not work appropriate."
Sex isn't work appropriate either, but it's still allowed in the off time.

I'm pretty torn by this subject, on one side I feel that she has the freedom of speech however like Jim stated above Company's HR departments are now google-ing up prespective employees and if they happen to come across the name in one of their ex-coworkers blogs and its a nagitive blog it reflects badly on them.

I think in the next couple of years we're going to be seeing an incress in Lible suits targeting blog authors for this very reason

@Austin Lewis

But then isn't a great American pastime bitching about your job? Sorry, but i'm on her side.

Well, one of her photos seems to be one at work. It's entirely possible that they found her blog by monitoring her internet access and as such the statement about work appropriate might make a bit of sense in that context. Of course, personally attacking your coworkers anywhere can get you fired. Creates a "hostile work enviroment" and all.

All that makes this newsworthy on GamePolitics is that a high profile game company was involved. People are terminated everyday for non-professional behavior. If it is true that she was warned about her activities, then Nintendo gave her a chance to correct the behavior.

If she was being bitchy about people online, chances are she was no joy to be around at work either. She may have been done in by complaints by her coworkers.

Freedom of Speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of choosing your words poorly ... or publishing them where the world can see.

I don't know - I can't imagine this being a terribly serious sin in any real form. We've all been unhappy at work, and we've all told horror work stories. I'm usually pretty conservative, but I guess on this subject I'm rather liberal. Inclined to think this was not very fair treatment. Then again, Nintendo could be one of those companies with rather byzantine non-disclosure agreements. Dennis does his best to impartial I'm sure, but it seems to me that we're only getting half the story here. If Nintendo can point to a section they think is seriously compromising, then fine, but if the worst thing they have is a section where she says she thinks her boss isn't getting sideways action, well, that might be a little unprofessional, but I don't especially think it's a damning sin in and of itself.

I agree that one should be able to bitch and gripe about work. The point of a blog is to express your thoughts. However, one has to use some common sense. If your trashing your co-workers, company, bosses daughter, etc… don’t post your picture, name, state, company you work for, or any other identifying information.

She has her rights to express herself but Nintendo has a right to protects it’s self and it’s employees.

There is a big difference between bitching about your workmates and bosses in private, and doing it in public. It doesn't matter if you don't mention them by name, putting it in a blog with your face on it is a putting it in a public place, and Nintendo are quite within their rights to consider that unacceptable.

Freedom of Speech doesn't only not mean freedom from consequences, it doesn't even vaguely apply here.. this is a private company who found out one of their employees was publicly, and offensively, discussing problems with coworkers outside their workplace.. if Zenner had kept her comments private between friends, it would not have happened, instead she decided to post them on the internet for all to see.

I have always said "never put anything in email that you wouldn't want to read out loud to your mother, your boss, or a judge." It applies to blog posts too.

Bloggers are not immune to libel and defamation suits.

@Jim
Very good advice.

@rdeegvaini
Employers do NOT have the ability nor the right to intrude on their employees' private lives. Blogs are not private. They can be (and are) read by anyone at anytime, including your employer.

@BlackIce, Leftie
Bitching about your job is one thing. Making a comment like what Zenner did and posting it on an outlet in which anyone can see is not a smart move.

This is a bit of a split issue for me. On the one hand, it's a private bog. On the other hand, I've noted people who're total obscene jerks on the internet, are quite often unpleasant in "the real world." And then there is always the thing where it appears she posted using her work computer, making her very easy to track and then one could call it "using company resources" to publicly insult your coworkers.

@ Thomas

I wanna dissagree with you about it not applying here but alas, I really can't come up with a good counter argument. However I can say this, The First Amendment was made so that people could activily partisapate in the political proscess. This rule also applys to our jobs, we have the freedom of saying that a certian person is whorable at their jobs and should be fired from it or openly say that they are getting treated diffrently because of something.

I still feel that Nintendo is in the right with this becase she was attacking a person not on their work habbits but on the fact that the person may have not gotten some action in their private life. That violates the 5th amendment there.

So overall I guess I'm agreeing with you!

She should sue. She has a right to write what she wrote. It was bi-directionally anonymous.

This is a growing problem in a large segment of society. Encouraging people to speak their minds, anonymously or otherwise, "share their feelings", and so on, and when people, young or old, do (much of the time in blogs of varying types), they suddenly realize that "opening yourself up" turned out to be nothing more than a trap for authority figures (school principals/teachers, school boards, bosses, cops, etc) to have an excuse to grab you off the street and punish you for the very thing they opened the door for you to do.

It's also true that such open speech has been abused as well. While individuals have opened their hearts and minds to the public, others have used such open speech to intentionally cause harm. One example has been the dontdatehimgirl.com type of sites where anonymous individuals can make all sorts of accusations, true or false, and not be held responsible for even the false accusations.

But at the same time, venting criticism about others has been denied and allowed stressful situations to build out of cotnrol.

So it has proven to be difficult to create a fair, neutral stance on such Public speech.

Nightwng2000
NW2K Software

I have no pity for people who get fired or loose scholarships due to someone finding what they wrote on the internet.

Shouldn't of posted it if you weren't ready to deal with the consequences. :P

I am so sick of this crap. Corporations are whittling away people's rights to do as they (lawfully) please during non-work hours, and nobody seems to care...at least not enough to actually do anything about it. I hate to sound like tinfoil...but it seems to me that corporations would just love to get back to the "good old days" where you lived in a community that was owned by the company, you bought your groceries, etc, from a store owned by the company, and you really didn't have a life outside the company.

I guess I should shut up now - heaven knows I'll be jobseeking somewhere down the line, some HR lackey will read this, and I'll be blacklisted and end up "living in a van down by the river."

If you bitch about your work in public, then they stand a chance of finding out. They might even actively look for such outpourings if they have reason to suspect that you're not a team player.

What do you think will happen if your employer finds out that you hate your job and your workmates or superiors? On-the-spot dismissal may be a bit harsh, but they're not going to be expected to overlook it. You work *for* a company, not just in the same building as it. What she did was insubordinate and would have easily been reason for A Talk.

If you really do hate working for a particular company and moan about it on the intertron, then you might not have to endure them for too long.

She's kind of cute ^_^

While I sympathize with her, the fact is that the higher-ups were able to find her blog and confirm her identity via her PICTURE means that it wasn't private, and many of her co-workers were probably aware of it including, potentially, her boss. She was creating drama in the workplace and was dumb enough to leave accessible written evidence of it. If she'd gotten fired for complaining about her bosses' management style to the higher-ups, that's one thing, but to post in public space with readily identifiable information that her boss was a bitch who needed to get laid... she was practically asking to get axed.

@Spekkio

For the most part I can relate. Pretty much ever since the advent of globalization and the decline of unions we (employees) have been steadily losing ground in the workplace as companies demand more and more, and give less and less. Don't misunderstand me, I'm NOT - (capital) advocating the return of unions. That's a grade A example of exchanging one set of problems for another.

What I do, however resent, is companies treating their workforces poorly and then playing victim-theater at the least little thing their employees might do.

(sigh)

Honestly, I don't have a solution, but I can't help but notice the article said "contractor" at Nintendo. My instinct say they probably expected her to give more loyalty then they were willing to return.

@ BlackIce, Leftie
Well, when you have a bad one, yes. You and I have had bad jobs with terribly hostile working environments. But she worked at Nintendo as a CONTRACTOR, making a huge salary no doubt. So no, I don't think she could get away with it.

Imagine tellin your Major to his face what you thought of him. Would you still be in that unit afterwards? Probably not.

TO zippy this is a PR move to cover thier ass its not breaking anything because names are not given if the company wants to toe the line past whats in the current contracts then prehpas they need to have it in writing that one can not talk about the company in public without consent from the company when broken one can be repermaned or fired.

I am sure that breaks some laws of some kind but WTF its not like corporations follow them anyway, nothing like lobbying to lobotomize regulation..

@Austin Lewis

The rules in the Brit Army are a bit different to the US. But I don't fight for Britain anymore, so that's okay. But I still fight.. Anyway..

Uhm... so I think my point is that she has a right to free speech and all..

Afterthought: You know what, since I can't put an arguement together for this one i'm gonna switch sides..

I found on digg today something that kinda goes for the argument of why you shouldn't let corprations get away with stuff like this. http://vtcommons.org/node/888

Its very intresting if you wanna to check it out.

The subject of if its right or wrong to fire some one over a blog is kind of hard to come up with a sound argument on ether side.

skimming over her blog she seems like a thoroughly unlikable person who is the product of a rich spoiled background. With things like talking about how her parents had her meeting rich and power people as a kid to how she wants to stay pretty she just seems like someone I wouldn't want to know. Of course appearances can be deceiving and she may be a very nice person. But I doubt it.

I don't think this is really fair to her. You know this is America and we do have a law that lets us talk about whatever the hell we want.

I think Nintendo should have ordered a cease and desist or just deal with the problem directly instead of giving the pink slip.

no company should have the power to fire somone over what they do in their personal life unless they're breaking the law. I hate it when the people you work for try to control your life.

Freedom of Speech doesn't apply here, as Nintendo is a private business. If you don't like what Nintendo's doing, then you (as a consumer) can boycott Nintendo's products for their actions. That's usually the optimal free market solution (there are exceptions, of course, like in monoplies).

I believe in free speech. I'm very liberal, however. just because there's "free speech" does not exclude you from "responsibility." Meaning; say what you want, do what you want. But be prepared to face the consequences."

She gave up her anonymity (did I spell that right?) as soon as she put her picture up. I have no sympathy for her; you have to be responsible. And if you are not, then, what happens happens. She wasn't responsible because she gave her identity, whether she knew it or not, and got punished for it. Sure, maybe a firing is a little harsh, but oh well. She seems rich, so maybe she can affort it.

Rammsoldat
Companies fire people all the time from not doing their work to doing it to well to infighting with staff and other reasons this is no worse than anything else but they need to protect themselfs from people suing them from being fired wrongly thus they need to state on paper where the line is and not pull it from their ass.

I keep on mulling this whole Debate over in my head, yes a company needs to protect its image however it ultamitly comes down to this simple fact,

People should be able to speak their minds with out fear for persicution, yes there comes concequinces with speaking ones mind however the person shouldn't have to fear loosing their jobs. In my opinion there is nothing diffrent from fireing some one over a flamatory blog then to fire some one because they didn't vote for Bush. Its not a rediculos reach here because your using the same logic to defend the company fireing the person. If every one in the office voted for Bush then there would be no drama in the office place plus a vote for Bush is good for the company becasue he's in our back pocket. If you vote for Kerry then you should suffer the concequince of your actions.
 
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