Office worker sacked for writing emails in block capitals
An office worker has been sacked for sending emails in block capitals, in a case that highlights the social minefield that is email etiquette.
Vicki Walker was forced out of her job as an accountant at a healthcare company after colleagues complained that her emails were too "shouty" and confrontational.
A tribunal heard that she spread disharmony among her co-workers by sending missives with entire sentences in block capitals.
She also behaved "provocatively" by highlighting key phrases in bold or red, her employer ProCare Health claimed.
In one office-wide email presented as evidence at her tribunal, she had typed in bold blue letters: "TO ENSURE YOUR STAFF CLAIM IS PROCESSED AND PAID, PLEASE DO FOLLOW THE BELOW CHECK LIST."
Mrs Walker, from Auckland, New Zealand, claimed it was "ridiculous" to describe the email as confrontational, saying that she was only trying to ensure that her colleagues filled out their forms correctly.
She has now been awarded £7,000 ($17,000 NZD) after the tribunal found that she had been unfairly dismissed by ProCare in December 2007.
The panel found that while she had caused friction in her office, her conduct did not amount to grounds for dismissal.
Her firm also had no email style guide, meaning employees could not be certain about what kinds of communication were deemed unacceptable.
Mrs Walker's case comes amid widespread uncertainty about professional "netiquette", particularly over the use of abbreviations and emoticons in emails.
Over-familiar or misjudged emails to clients can costs firms tens of thousands of pounds in lost orders, experts have warned.