Insults on a blog may be grounds for dismissal
A secondary school teacher who combined his teaching duties with his love of writing was dismissed from the school where he worked for using his blog to insult teachers and students alike. Scathingly and taking no prisoners, in an earnest, if ultimately unsuccessful bid to ape J.D. Salinger’s caustic style, the teacher recounted day-to-day anecdotes on his blog, sending up the exploits of his colleagues and students, depicting them as illiterate fools. The blog entries were carefully published under a pseudonym and the identity of the main characters was disguised under fake names. Unmasked by one of his fellow teachers, the teacher in question came clean and was immediately dismissed. In the unjustified dismissal proceeding, the teacher held that he had never used real names and that the comments made on his blog were protected under freedom of expression and literary creation.
A Madrid court recently dismissed the ex-teacher and blogger’s claim and upheld the disciplinary dismissal. In its judgment, the court reproached the worker’s disloyalty to the company and upheld the dismissal on the grounds, among others, of the seriousness of the disparaging remarks, the truth of the stories published and the fact that the main characters (many of whom were minors) were easily identifiable. Moreover, at the trial it was proven that the blog had been written during office hours. The decision is not final and has been appealed.
In short, publishing insults on a blog may be cause for dismissal. Freedom of expression and literary and artistic creation do not protect, as the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court have held on numerous occasions (for example, here, here or here), a purported right to insult … whether on paper on online.