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Orange suspends employee over blog posting

A community affairs manager at Orange has been suspended by the mobile operator after the company received complaints about his posting on a Tory blogging site, according to The Register.18 Aug 2006

Inigo Wilson wrote an entry that accuses the current Labour administration of using language that obscures its true political motives. Under the heading "The Lefty Lexicon", Wilson provided a set of terms and their usage or meaning.

He defined Islamophobe as: "Anyone who objects to having their transport blown up on the way to work." Palestinians were defined as: "archetype 'victims' no matter how many teenagers they murder in bars and fast food outlets. Never responsible for anything they do – or done in their name – because of 'root causes' or ‘legitimate grievances’."

After receiving complaints, Orange suspended Wilson. A spokesman told The Register: "All employees are issued with guidelines as to what constitutes behaviour that brings the company into disrepute. We need to investigate now to determine whether or not Mr Wilson has breached those guidelines."

Robyn McIlroy, an employment law specialist with Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, said the case raises the interesting and increasingly relevant point of whether an employee's conduct in his own time can affect his employer's reputation.

"As a general rule, conduct committed outside employment can potentially justify disciplinary action depending often on the nature of the employee's job and the potential damage to the employer's reputation," she said. "But many factors will be relevant, including the terms of an employee's contract and any applicable policy."

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