Wednesday, September 2, 2009

RE: Emails Spark Woman's Sacking

Yahoo had a link this morning to an article about a New Zealand woman who was recently awarded the charmingly small sum of $17,000 (NZ) for "unfair dismissal."

An Auckland accountant was sacked for sending "confrontational" emails with words in red, in bold and in capital letters.

Anyone who's ever worked with an accountant knows they often send emails with words in bold, red, capital, italicized, underlined letters seemingly at random. Those emails can get to be like 17th century novels.

But. What about proper use of quotation marks? Did her sentences run-on? Did she. Put periods in the middle of her sentences? Did she download those annoying "smileys" or "smilies" and infect her emails with them?

Of course, accountants aren't the only ones who've sent such emails- it just happens I've worked with a lot of them, and I've gotten some shall we say interesting emails from them from time to time. I always thought they were more funny than confrontational. A lot of people do not realize that it's considered the email equivalent of yelling to write something in capital letters. Charles Bukowski, for instance, used capital letters in the same way one might use italics.

In fact, I used to turn certain emails that I received into poems, without touching the punctuation in any way- just breaking them up into stanzas. They were fun, but of course all emails were property of the company for which I worked and I didn't save any of them so I can't cut and paste one into this blog entry so don't even ask me because I won't/can't do it.

Oh, but they were fun. Which is why a company should not fire someone for sending odd emails. They're a positive influence on the mood around the office.

What is not a positive influence on the mood around the office is shenanigans like this:

She [Vicki Walker, the sacked accountant] had also acted provocatively in seeking to view complaints laid against her by colleagues.

There's a lot the article's not telling us about this part of the story. In fact, this is the only paragraph that mentions this. Were the complaints about her "confrontational" emails, or about something else? Was she harassing people? Was she playing her music too loud? Was she making rude comments about co-workers's attire? Did she plan on using the information gleaned from her viewing of the complaints to intimidate those who complained about her?

"To say that [email] is confrontational is ridiculous," says Walker. "I have spent thousands defending myself and there are so many issues that are unresolved that I want to take them up on."

I agree. This is a poorly-written story meant to grab people's attention with its "can-you-believe-this-crazy-sh*t" headline (relatable to anyone who's ever worked in an office), with no real insight into what actually happened.

1 comment:

shampoo said...

wrongful dismissal lawsuits often result in "charmingly small" settlements, in my experience. I suppose however good a lawyer the individual can get, the corporation can afford a better one.

probably they wanted to fire this woman and she wasn't giving them much to work with, so they were pursuing several minor issues... like the emails.