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Woman Fired For Using Uppercase In Email 364

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-type-angry dept.
tomachi writes "An accountant in NZ has been awarded $17,000 NZD for unfair dismissal after her boss fired her without warning for using uppercase letters in a single email to co-workers. The email, which advises her team how to fill out staff claim forms, specifies a time and date highlighted in bold red, and a sentence written in capitals and highlighted in bold blue. It reads: 'To ensure your staff claim is processed and paid, please do follow the below checklist.' Her boss deemed the capital letters too confrontational for her co-workers to read after they woke up from naptime."

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Woman Fired For Using Uppercase in Email

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  • Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CarpetShark (865376) on Monday August 31, 2009 @12:52PM (#29262703)

    This is actually one of the better formatted emails I've seen. Much as I dislike off-like emails, it's verging on good information design rather than offensiveness or even ugliness.

    Also... when did people stop understanding the word "please"?

  • by Zen Hash (1619759) on Monday August 31, 2009 @12:59PM (#29262811)

    Clearly, there must be more to this story... The email excerpt alone is hardly "confrontational".

    I'd bet there was a more personal confrontation, possibly with a superior, and that email was simply seen as a better excuse to get rid of her than the real reason.

  • the real problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 31, 2009 @12:59PM (#29262817)

    The real problem is that she's sending HTML email.

  • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gruvmeister (1259380) * on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:00PM (#29262843)
    And there will still be people who read that email and either miss the deadline or don't follow the instructions.
  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:02PM (#29262879) Journal

    If everyone else did their job right and didn't need the bolded and capital letters.

    If anything, everyone else should have been reprimanded and she should have been told not to warn them anymore.

  • Uh huh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MonsterTrimble (1205334) <.moc.liamtoh. .ta. .elbmirtretsnom.> on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:05PM (#29262921)
    After reading the article (which was darn light on the details) I smell a usual workplace suspect: This woman was a much bigger pain in the butt then she was worth. And like many workplace pains she kept her nose JUST clean enough to not be fired for anything serious. Somebody gambled by using a stupid reason and lost. Although I also look at the amount they paid and think $17K is a pittance for the lost time and lost personel who don't want to work with the pain.
  • by DaveGod (703167) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:08PM (#29262967)

    From TFA:

    She had also acted provocatively in seeking to view complaints laid against her by colleagues.

    That little line tells us there's far more to this story than using caps in an email, but they just drop it in and try to pretend it isn't there, like an embarrassing little fart that stinks up the story they want to write.

    I know we enjoy complaining about bad journalism but it's no better to promote their shitty little articles.

  • by WiiVault (1039946) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:19PM (#29263093)
    Whenever you hear about somebody getting fired for something silly like this it should be pretty clear that the person doing the firing was just waiting for an excuse. Obviously he picked a bad "reason" to fire her.
  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:32PM (#29263297)

    That's what I was thinking: Crazy person uses what little power her position has to make life miserable for coworkers. Coworkers complain. Boss decides crazy person is disrupting business.

    I doubt anything she did was over the top enough to make a clear cut firing case, but nasty people with a little power doing many small, annoying things can make for a bad working environment.

  • by BeanThere (28381) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:46PM (#29263505)

    I don't know why she doesn't just go find another job, instead of this silly lawsuit ... oh wait, greed, that's it ... a $17,000 award, nice. Guess who coughs up for that ... people like us who don't abuse the system :/

    "I am a single woman with a mortgage, and I had to re-mortgage my home and borrow money from my sister to make it through," she said. "They nearly ruined my life."

    Oh please, it's her employer's fault that she has zero savings, yet still bought a house that she couldn't afford without living literally having to live paycheck to paycheck? That makes the employer "responsible" for owing her a living?

  • Re:Wow. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WraithCube (1391567) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:51PM (#29263571)

    Also... when did people stop understanding the word "please"?

    Apparently some people decided that "please" makes it sound like its optional. Thus if you put please in it less people listen. Stupid I know, but true nonetheless.

  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:57PM (#29263671)
    You learn to live with it.

    That's not entirely true. I started out in programming (in Assembler, Fortran and COBOL) when EVERYTHING WAS IN UPPER CASE on the mainframe computers I was using. There was no lower-case option on my punch-cards, and the same goes for my printers. (Though some of them were the fastest printers I have ever worked with, even to this day.)

    But I never liked uppercase, and was happy as a pig in shit when I got to play around with C.
  • by kenp2002 (545495) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:00PM (#29263699) Homepage Journal

    Face it, we are heading back to royalty and peasantry quicker and quicker. Not long and they'll have us back in chains. I knew a former employee of Anderson who was fired after lunch because he had a spot of soup on his tie.

    "At $85 fucking dollars an hour I expect your monkey ass to be fucking spotless, get the fuck out of my office you unkempt shit!"

    That is why I got out of consulting as I was sitting outside the door during this exchange. I once lost a contract from having a 102 fever and couldn't drive to drop off a floppy disk with a script for a novell printer remap even though there was 12 copies of the disk sitting on my desk 2 cubes over from where my boss sat...

    "If you can't get to work when we need you, then we don't fucking need you. You can mail us the pager and badge, your fucking done in this town!"

    We are pesants, get used to it. I still see the same H1B guys in Minneapolis (Now what, 13 year later) who put 38-40 hours on their time sheets but a simple check of the parking ramp's badge log and they are there 2-3 days straight and the workstation log shows 80-90 hours a week working. They don't dare put their real time down or it is "back on the boat" for them (I hear that crap from their managers all the time).

    I've been out of consulting now for about 4 years and you couldn't pay me to go back into it. I'm lucky where I am at but the horrors I see here in the Twin Cities makes me ill on how they treat employees. I saw on gal get fired because "she's too pretty" and another "because she dates too much", another "I don't need some fat shit blocking my view..."

    I've even been told by a few executives "I'm a fucking piece of livestock" on several occasions (twice ironically at the same resturant "The Palimino", Minneapolis in the La Salle tower. Nice place btw.)

    It gets worse every year and you wonder why no one goes into IT anymore. I cannot speak outside of the IT\MIS field but I have found that, given a sourge, most would use it on someone. The USA corporate culture is getting bad, real bad. Madoff and the like are just the tip of the iceberg in bad behavior. You should hear the kind of shit they say while on Lake Minnetonka or up on the White Fish chain by Cross Lake and hear what they really think about "the fucking toothless braindead pesants I have working for me". The greed is getting worse not better... so much for being an enlightened society....

    Sadly it also appears to be 2nd generation types too. The old man was nice and polite, his children on the otherhand... what the hell happened? I'd rather have the old days before the Mafia wen't legit and brought their business methods with them.

  • Sadly it also appears to be 2nd generation types too. The old man was nice and polite, his children on the otherhand... what the hell happened?

    Perhaps you've hit on the root of the problem. Dynastic succession. Untested, unproven people being placed in positions they never earned. Indeed, they feel entitled to them by default.

    To rationalise this, they need a philosophy for why they deserve so much more for so little. They must be in some way inherently more deserving, superior, better than ordinary people. After that, it's rather difficult to treat others with respect.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:51PM (#29264497)

    Have you ever actually been fired and had to go job hunting again? It is a potentially life-changing event. I'm not saying her lawsuit isn't silly, but to imply that getting fired out of the blue for no reason is no big deal is flat out wrong.

  • by selven (1556643) on Monday August 31, 2009 @03:01PM (#29264651)

    "They nearly ruined my life."

    Wait, so the company paid this person a salary and allowed her to own a home in the first place, but when the company stopped helping her it's "ruining her life"? That is some screwed up entitlement mentality.

  • by ndege (12658) on Monday August 31, 2009 @03:09PM (#29264791)

    What about the blink tag? ;) Seems like a firing offence to me.

  • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Monday August 31, 2009 @03:16PM (#29264879) Journal

    Sadly it also appears to be 2nd generation types too. The old man was nice and polite, his children on the otherhand... what the hell happened?

    Perhaps you've hit on the root of the problem. Dynastic succession. Untested, unproven people being placed in positions they never earned. Indeed, they feel entitled to them by default.

    To rationalise this, they need a philosophy for why they deserve so much more for so little. They must be in some way inherently more deserving, superior, better than ordinary people. After that, it's rather difficult to treat others with respect.

    I'd mod you up if I had points.

    Thankfully, the good thing about dynastic succession is that the successors, not having the experience of having run a struggling company, end up piloting it either into a hole, lining their own pockets, or at best, into a level, zero-growth situation, giving more room for competitors. We benefit from churn. Industries are like soup: they have to be stirred frequently or the scum rises to the top.

  • by trawg (308495) on Monday August 31, 2009 @03:20PM (#29264971) Homepage

    Where are you writing from, 1980?!

    As long as clients are sending correctly formatted multipart emails to allow plain text readers the chance to read as well, HTML email is a good thing.

    I used to be a hater too. But over the last many years of writing many, many long emails and seeing them get ignored, I found I could write long emails and just highlight the importand parts in bold or with colour. That way the low-attention-span people at the other end who couldn't take 5 minutes out of their day to read my carefully justified reasoning about why I wanted to do something in a certain way (...because the alternative was sending them a one line email saying what I wanted to do and then getting forfty thousand follow-up emails about why) could just focus on the bright shiny important bits (such as questions) which I really wanted them to see.

    Sure, I could have just written in dot point form. There's a few reasons I write non-terse emails though - 1) I enjoy writing 2) I like making sure I've covered every possible eventuality and writing them all out helps me 3) I like providing all the information a recipient will (hopefully) need to make a decision.

    I've changed my writing style several times over the years to try and communicate more clearly with people who a) rely on email for their job and b) don't like reading and it's been a pretty painful process. No doubt I still haven't gotten it right, but formatting in HTML email is one thing that I've found that makes it easier for me to tailor emails to a given audience.

  • by Lord Ender (156273) on Monday August 31, 2009 @03:22PM (#29264995) Homepage

    The real problem is that she's sending HTML email.

    HTML can add a lot to the expressiveness of your email. This is a good thing, as it improves communication.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday August 31, 2009 @03:45PM (#29265317) Homepage Journal

    The USA corporate culture is getting bad, real bad.

    That's why the economy went into the toilet and isn't likely to get any better very soon.

    Employers were like that in the 1920s, too. [virginia.edu]

  • Re:Wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by compro01 (777531) on Monday August 31, 2009 @03:55PM (#29265413)

    Just find a company that has a clue and cares with respect to actual work done per dollar productivity. There have been multiple [nytimes.com] studies [thecrimson.com] that have found a nap in the afternoon substantially boosts alertness and productivity, so the employer gets more work done for their money and the employees are also generally happier.

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Monday August 31, 2009 @04:43PM (#29266149) Journal
    I don't know what the legal system is like in NZ, but if it's anything like in the US, the vast majority of the settlement went to the lawyers, making the whole suit primarily a matter of principle.

    Most of the world is a little different. Usually the system is loser pays. So the plaintiff can get damages and get the guilty party to pay for the fact that she had to sue them
  • by lgw (121541) on Monday August 31, 2009 @05:04PM (#29266449) Journal

    It's been my experience that people who whine about HTML email are people who are using ancient email readers that don't support it, and don't want to change tools. The number of luddites in the field of software development amazes me.

  • by fibonacci8 (260615) on Monday August 31, 2009 @09:35PM (#29268989)

    You could be a lot more concise by replacing 99% of legal documents with the following:

    t(^_^t)

  • by NateTech (50881) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @12:06AM (#29269923) Homepage

    Are you actually of the belief that Democrats aren't in the Corporate pocketbook too? Wow. How much money (and corruption) does it take to become President these days?

    It's not a small sum. BOTH sides are playing, and always will.

    Which Party just voted to loan billions to George Soros' company to drill off the coast of Brazil for oil? Yeah...

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