Blogging and instant messaging, once the domain of teenagers and geeks, are permeating the workplace. Employers are now starting to embrace these technologies, and even setting up their own blogging and instant messaging systems. As with any new communications tool, there are issues and potential liabilities that must be considered. Different issues arise depending on whether employees are communicating on their own equipment during non-work hours, or using company equipment during work hours. Obviously, what an employee says on his or her own computer and own time implicates free speech issues — and is not something that many employers can control.

Indeed, many states have statutes that prohibit employers from terminating or disciplining employees for engaging in lawful activities during non-work hours. However, an employee’s off-duty blogging or IMs can adversely affect an employer in a variety of ways.