[thelist] Re: consulting fees

Jonathan j at firebright.com
Mon Jun 14 17:54:08 CDT 2004


> > When you do start free-lancing, get everything in writing upfront.
> Ouch.  I don't mean to offend, but I've got to disagree with 
> the above very wholeheartedly.  I *DO* think you need to know 


And I have to disagree with you. Man, I love this list. ;-)  En garde!
Thrust, parry!

> interest.  It's certainly not your employer's business if you 
> decide to create a blog site, etc. and while that may not be 
> what the intent of the above reply was, it's a fine line.  

It most certainly is if you live in the United States.  It's all about the
wonder of HR, and the letigious society we live in.  It's no longer just
Quid pro quo, it's about legally protecting yourself from the actions of
your employees.

Let's say it's Saturday night, and you and a couple of friends from work
meet up at a bar for a couple of drinks and some pool.  You start talking
smack about some horrible boss at work who's a total ass and who nobody
likes, because your drunk, and then next thing you know you're your at home
in bed.  

Monday morning comes around and you're called into the big head-honcho
boss's office.  The HR manager is there.  Turns out that under sexual
harassment guidelines you exibited "verbal conduct of sexual or degrading
nature".  That's the actual language used by lawyers.  You said something
negative about your boss, and your friend said something to a friend of
her's, who mentioned it in a hallway at work, which happened to be overheard
by your boss.  

You never said anything sexual at all, but you did say a few strong opinion
statements.  You wouldn't even consider it offensive, but that *doesn't
matter* in the law's eyes.

You're fired, and your company ends up with a 10 million dollar lawsuit from
your boss, and everybody loses.

Now, imagine instead of going to a bar, you posted an opinion on your blog
where you made a passing remark about how difficult it is to work at your
company, or on a particular project (it's doesn't take much to make a
lawsuit with Sexual Harassment)...  There is no difference in the eyes of
the law.

When you work for a company, you assume the liability of the company's HR
policies and the US's somewhat over the top laws on sexual harassment
*whether or not you're on the clock* for your company.

In fact, if you work for the Federal Government in the US, they have a
special form that you have to fill out *just to let you do outside work* (it
releases the Feds from liability for your outside efforts -- but it still
has to be improved).  Failure to do so puts the government at risk for
lawsuits and can get you fired.  It's especially bad if you happen to be of
opposite sexes...

So, in fact, you really should get some liability release for your company,
or at least get a release from them to do the work.

Most business people do NOT understand the kind of liability they take on
with employees, and most employees are downright shocked to discover that
what they say *outside* of work can actually get them fired and their
company screwed with a massive lawsuit, even if what they say has NOTHING
whatsoever to do with sexually degrading comments.

NOTE: I'm now a lawyer, and this is not legal advise.  It's simly my

> It's also to your employer's benefit if you are further 
> practicing and extending your skills.

I couldn't agree more.  



> instance, I would certainly avoid using any company resources 
> at all.  AT ALL.

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