Joe Gordon thought he would raise a laugh among family and friends when he referred to his employer, Waterstones, as 'Bastardstones' in his blog. His manager even merited a special mention - as Evil Boss.
Waterstones, however, didn't see the joke. Gordon was dismissed for gross misconduct in January last year.
Unions and fellow bloggers condemned the move as heavy-handed, but the tricky issue of dealing with employees who blog - ie, publish an online diary - has grown in prominence.
The trend started in the US, where companies to have fired bloggers include famous names such as Google, Delta Airlines and the Wells Fargo bank. Airing the corporate dirty linen in public simply isn't acceptable for these companies.
In the wider world of the internet, however, blogs are the latest big thing. Almost 30 million currently exist, according to blogging website technorati.com, and about 70,000 more appear every day. Technorati estimates that 29,100 blog updates are published every hour.
Much of this enormous world of blogs will of course be self-obsessed musings with limited appeal. But it only takes one derogatory reference to your organisation to pop up on a search listing, and within hours it could appear higher up in the Google ratings than your official website. With journalists regularly combing the internet for stories, the risk of an allegation or indiscretion getting into the papers is a real one.
Watching the web
So how should HR manage the growth in the blogging culture? Is it necessary, or even advisable, to fire a blogging employee who has stepped over the line? Some observers believe that, in the current climate of the novelty of blogging, this only draws more attention to the blog. Ben Wilmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, says that the problem with a high-profile instant dismissal is that other employees could resent the implications of a 'Big Brother' management style.
"We researched the impact of surveillance in companies and found that employees are less likely to feel positively about a company that is obviously monitoring the activities of its staff in this way," he says.
"There is an argument that we should be fostering more of an adult-to-adult relationship between employer and employee, giving them autonomy, rather than controlling them like children."
But Mark Rogers, chief executive of blog-monitoring fi