Have you ever included caps lock in your emails? Sometimes it can help get your point across, but it can also be rude. Generally, these types of emails float around the office on an occasional basis; but one New Zealand woman was fired because her email was seen as confrontational.

New Zealand’s ProCare Health fired one of their employees because she sent “confrontational emails” that included text which had been formatted in red, bold, and all caps. The woman had sent the email, which included stern instructions on what was the proper way to fill out forms, to her fellow coworkers.

Some of the coworkers reported the incident and stressed to the employer that they did not like how this woman was communicating with them. They felt that she was “disrupting the workplace” and was too confrontational with her email.

The woman was eventually fired without warning, but the woman did not except her termination. So she sued for wrongful termination. She ended up winning the case and was able to not only get her job back, but receive $17,000 to cover lost wages and emotional turmoil she suffered because of her wrongful termination.

Despite the fact that this woman is most likely not the most popular person at work, did she deserve to get fired? Granted, she was rude, blunt, and insensitive but that doesn’t seem to be a legitimate reason to be fired. One other problem I see with this case is that she was never warned. Most companies will at least give their employees a warning if they have done something that is against company policy or offends other workers.

It sounds like this company wanted to get rid of the woman, and they thought this was probably their best shot. They probably never guessed that she would fight them on it. Most likely they thought she would leave and find another job somewhere else. Or at least that’s what they were hoping; but it didn’t seem to come true.

This begs the question: where is the line when it comes to corporate email? Most workers have received more than one “confrontational email” in their professional careers. It kind of depends on who your co-workers are and how they communicate.

In the olden days, this rude message would have been handwritten and delivered but would probably have been referred to as the poison pen. This is a problem not only today but in the past. Some people just don’t communicate well with others so they send their complaints through other means. If you are the recipient of a message of this type, then take it with a grain of salt. Maybe there are other reasons this person is grumpy, and it’s not just you.

Although it may be difficult to get along with co-workers sometimes, just remember that you only have to deal with them during work. After that you are free and clear. So just hold on, and, hopefully, the “confrontational emails” will be few and far between.

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