Wednesday, December 2, 2009
This story reminds us that in writing, tone matters. According to the blog "Social Networking and the Law" a female employee at a New Zealand health care company called ProCare was fired after she sent instructions to fellow employees using "all caps," "bold" and colored font (really?). Apparently her employer thought that the use of those fonts was too confrontational and thus fired her for creating disharmony in the workplace. She sued ('natch) and won a $17k verdict for wrongful termination.
The lesson, I think, is that although email recipients are much more aware than they used to be about how easily an author's intention can be misinterpreted due to the lack of aural and physical cues that give words meaning in face to face exchanges, the risk of having one's email misinterpreted - with serious consequences - is still very real. There's probably a very good teachable moment here for legal writing students about the need to think carefully about tone, the reader and how susceptible to different meanings are words on the bare page. On the other hand, maybe the employee in question really was yelling at her co-workers.
I am the scholarship dude.