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back to article NZ woman sacked for SHOUTY EMAILS

A NZ woman who was sacked for sending "confrontational" emails in red, bold and CAPITAL LETTERS has been awarded NZ$17k (£7,150) for unfair dismissal, the New Zealand Herald reports. Financial controller Vicki Walker was shown the door at ProCare Health back in December 2007 for her lack of netiquette. One particular email …

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Paris Hilton

In my day..

...we'd be hung, drawn and quartered for SCREAMING EMAILS IN UPPER CASE. And that was for a first offense.

-smelly

Paris, because only a dumb blond could think that this sort of ocular abuse was o.k.

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Anonymous Coward

I almost agree

While the lack of a warning (and thus the dismissal) was unfair, I really HATE IT when PEOPLE TYPE EMAILS IN CAPS.

FFS people. Lower case exists for a reason...

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Grenade

Easy solution

Wouldn't have affected me. I have HTML turned off in my email client by default, and so probably would never even have seen the red or the bold.

Now all it needs is for someone to create a font with all lower case and no capital letters ..... probably not me, though, as it's marginally less effort to ignore the capitals.

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SHOUTY?

Past experience shows that many managers are prone to sending SHOUTY EMAILS as they deem the messages that IMPORTANT.

Generally they are usually mundane and tedious and have no real importance other than in the mind of the sender.

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So...

LET THAT BE A WARNING TO YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh - nd wat abt txt spk?

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Flame

No Excuse

I'd have fired her, but I'd have done it properly (with warnings beforehand)

Although some people seem to have real problems putting a sentence together in an email. Most of the time it's because they are assholes who don't see your comprehension of their incoherent email as something they need concern themselves with - You know the type.

It's the reason why "must be a good communicator" is on every job description.

Just as "must be able to use a computer" and "must be able to write coherently" and "must be able to breath, not through mouth" should be but never are.

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WTF?

heh

I would have had her hanged for that

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Thumb Up

Yes, we can all...

...get aggravated by the ALL CAPS emailer, the person who thinks that their email should always have the little exclamation mark on it, the inveterate bolder etc, but sacking her? That's ridiculous. Glad she won.

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Joke

It could have been worse

If she was a top poster too.

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Megaphone

Careful now

I can't believe they didn't warn her before firing.

IT'S A LITTLE EXTREME DON'T YOU THINK !11!!!!!11!!!1!

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Megaphone

Was it really the typeface/colour?

Or was it her failure to grasp basic grammar or word order?

"TO ENSURE YOUR STAFF CLAIM IS PROCESSED AND PAID, PLEASE DO FOLLOW THE BELOW CHECK LIST" indeed...

Or, maybe they were worried that, using CAPITALS she was a Lagos lass 4(1)9'er, oh, my darling Clementine. Lost and gone forever, from the company's point of view.

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Boffin

MAYBE SHE SHOULD LEARN NOT TO SHOUT

I'd have warned her, and then if she did it again, fire her.

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Good for her

If people are not doing the right thing you have a quiet word, educate or train them. If they persist then you start giving official warnings. If they really cannot do it right then you fire them.

It's ridiculous to expect change if no one points out the problem and gives a chance for improvement. Equally ridiculous to expect things to be done a certain way if people aren't aware of what that certain way should be.

Her employers are guilty of letting the problem get out of hand and then going OTT in dealing with it, and the award reflects that.

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Shame they didn't successfully sack her

as I'd use this story as a warning to a few staff members.

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Anonymous Coward

SHHHHHH

All my BASIC and Pascal programs were shouted at my computer for about a decade. It never complained!

10 PRINT "PLEASE KEEP YOUR VOICE DOWN "

20 GOTO 10

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WTF?

I'd have fired her...

for failing to demonstrate her qualifications, namely English composition, assuming such a qualification is a requirement for the position.

I would probably have given a couple of warnings too.

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Headmaster

But...

Has no one noticed that she did say PLEASE. She deserves some recognition for at least using some politeness.

Teacher pic, because it's all about education.

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Grenade

Back in the old days...

..a lot of companies were hooked up via Mail Gateway Servers (pre-Internet boom down here in my part of the colonies). MS-Mail was the de facto standard at the time.

Anyway, one lady from a company e-mailed an ad for selling something like 2nd hand furniture/car/whatever. And selected everyone from the global mailing list as recipients. Which ensured that said e-mail was delivered to 100's of companies in the region and 1000's of users.

I hand crafted a response, delivered via an open relay, that requested her to attend a disciplinary hearing where she could potentially be fired for gross misconduct. Suggested that she bring legal council with. Provided date and time and venue for hearing. And added all the extras to make it look like it personally came from the CEO's offices for the company she worked for. Even the SMTP headers were hand crafted.

Wish I could have seen her face reading that mail.. would have been a small measure of satisfaction for having to deal with the never-ending spam that started with the first Dave Rhodes letter that hit may QWK mailbox decades ago and never ceased since...

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Anonymous Coward

She was probably just...

... a pain in the ass and this was the first excuse someone could find to get rid of her.

A bit of patience and a discussion would've made things clear for both parties instead of resorting to legal BS.

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Coat

But...

CAPS LOCK IS CRUISE CONTROL FOR AWESOME!

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Warnings

Perhaps if she was a top poster they were going to fire her and then give her the warnings. That would fit the crime.

I wouldn't have noticed the red or bold either, because I'm another one that filters out HTML. On seeing the all-caps, I'd have hit delete and not bothered to read it.

Anyway, as any fule should know, the bin in the keyboard containing capital letters is smaller than the one containing lower case, so excessive use of the former is likely to mean the keyboard needs refilling a lot sooner.

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Boffin

RE: MAYBE SHE SHOULD LEARN NOT TO SHOUT

Must be more to it. What the employer should have done is warned her and then sent her on a remedial course - if her behaviour did not improve after that then there is grounds for dismissial as they could have claimed they "took every option available to work with her" (HR speak for "we did the minimum to avoid being sued"). There must be more to the story on how she was disruptive seeing as shouty emails aren't usually such a massive problem compared to maybe workplace bullying, for example. My guess is she got on the wrong side of someone in a position of authority and they looked for the first petty excuse to fire her.

Some websites say other employees were complaining about her and she as trying to see the complaints. Looks like her face didn't fit so they canned her rather than deal with the issues, and instead got a kicking when she decided not to back down. Neither side wins - Procare will be thought of as a bad employer, but Ms Walker will now have to go to any future interviews knowing the publicity will have labelled her a troublemaker.

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Happy

Importance

I've set my mail client to default outgoing mails to low importance - the small blue arrow in Outlook really catches people's attention.

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Megaphone

Firing can be a good thing

I had an employee who knew the organisation's rules inside out. He pulled just about every stunt there was - that is, any stunt that was *not* a sacking offence - the only other things that could happen were counselling, re-training or withholding a pay-rise (and unfortunately I couldn't change the rules). Since he was already on the highest pay scale for his position, basically, there was nothing anybody could do. He was a staunch union member and loved to remind everyone of that fact at every opportunity.

A few of the stunts he regularly pulled were pointless ALL CAPS e-mails, writing/signing document distribution cover sheets in huge red texta, leaving pointless voice-mails for people, deliberately leaving *many* typos in correspondence (he could write very well when he wanted to), and, on his particularly difficult days, asking permission for *everything* just to be a pain in the ass. Oh, and he loved his frequent compo claims, too.

As you might have guessed, this was a public service organisation where, as long as the *minimum* job criteria were still met, he just couldn't be fired or transferred.

Since that experience, I have concluded that being able to fire someone is a very good thing - even on fairly flimsy evidence. Personally, I'd be happy with a law that requires a single written warning, and if that or any similar "offence" occurs again, they're gone.

I suppose this lady should have been given a warning. But if she refused to change her ways - show her the door.

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SHE SURE MUNTED THEM, HEY

GOOD AND PROPER, HEY?

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Anonymous Coward

Seems harsh

Seems a harsh punishment for what she did and the result of the case would back that up. I've been through a tribunal as the little guy and it is most unpleasent, I'd back her up entirely on that point.

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Looks like she was trying to be helpful.

While those who constantly use all caps and regularly send things in silly colours do annoy me -- the sentence quoted looks like it is important and helpful so, though her highlighting may have been a little extreme, it was done to help. Perhaps she should have sent it out in 9pt grey and told people to "read their fucking email" when their expenses weren't paid?

Though, admittedly, if I were her boss I'd have a quiet word about netiquette.

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Alert

grammar N(a)Z(i)

This lady seems to have received a bit of a lambasting over her grammar as well as her truly unfortunate lack of netiquette but her email subject line is, at least, entirely grammatically correct. There is nothing wrong with using "I/we/you do follow" as a declension the verb "to follow". Also there is nothing wrong with the order of the phrase "the below check list" as in this case, "below" is functioning as an adjective.

I do, however, agree that her phrasing is a little unusual and could perhaps have been arranged a little better, at least in order to avoid the slightly odd and confused-sounding combination of the words 'below' and 'follow'. I would maybe have gone with something like the following (ha!) sentence:

"To ensure your staff claim is processed and paid please observe the following the check list".

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Anonymous Coward

Cousin corporations

Thought she worked for my company.

My boss documented me on a review for having unprofessional e-mails. He also told me he found it un-necessary to tell me what is was that made them unprofessional (at least I had that conversation on tape) and I'd never had any warning previously. When H.R. decided not to rescind the statement, I photocopied an e-mail sent from my boss about people paying to have sex with animals on my next review (sent to me after my review and it was the most ironic out of the dumb stuff he'd constantly send). The same boss also uses semi-colons in place of commas and frequently has to explain e-mails because they don't make sense. At least it's not as bad as the supervisor's wife, she constantly uses the important icon for all of her e-mails so no one forgets her status. At least the brother in-law-in-the-same-office knows how to e-mail.

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From another source...

...about this story, apparently the firm involved had no email policy or style guidelines in place, so there wasn't really any company policy being violated. If you want to fire people for borderline bad behaviour, you have to define what constitutes bad behaviour. Otherwise you are just asking for an unfair dismissal judgement.

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Maybe ....

... they only gave her an old TTY terminal ??

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There's a reason not to warn

Sounds like the kind of person no one liked in the first place, and they were just waiting for any excuse to get rid of her. Better luck next time (no, I'm not a fan of shouty emails)

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Flame

Correction

Shouldn't her statement read...

"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. THEY NEARLY RUINED MY LIFE!!!!1!!!!!1!!!!"

Sorry couldn't do Red and Bold.

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JCL
Thumb Down

CV

I once read a CV that was entirely written in capitals - as was the covering email it was attached to. I had to copy the thing from a PDF file (another doh!) into Word and run the change case option. Not that he was going anywhere.

A colleague had a cv that rhymed. It didn't get far either.

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Ohh my!

I would have dug hole in carpark and buried her for the use of caps, no messing with sacking and stuff.

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Flame

Since we are on the subject of grammar

Is it just me or is anyone else massiveley annoyed by the whole "Americanismed" way of saying "I am going to..."

You usually get it in tutorials for stuff and it usually goes like this:-

"So what I'm gonna do, is I'm gonna go right ahead and I'm gonna [do some thing]"

GAH! It just makes me want to poke out my ear drums, it's almost as bad as "What I need for you to do" and the sentence (that in my opinion) should be banned under some hate crime law which is .... "do you want to see if you can you do that for me?" - No I fucking don't want to see if I can do it, fuck off!

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Headmaster

@Ray0x6

An excellent demonstration of the rule that any post about grammar must contain one or more grammar errors more glaring than the one under discussion. "The following the check list" indeed. Well done sir.

But I do agree that there's nothing wrong with the sentence. "Please do follow" to me sounds archaic, but that actually makes it seem more polite. And "the below check list" is a bit Germanic but not actually wrong as far as I know.

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Anonymous Coward

Shouting at people over the internet...

needs to be done, and capitals are the way to do it.

Her only mistake was using email: http://imshouting.com

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Headmaster

@Spleen

Beautifully put, Sir. Hoist by your own petard.

<<An excellent demonstration of the rule that any post about grammar must contain one or more grammar errors more glaring than the one under discussion>>

Shouldn't that be ...one or more grammatical errors...?

Vent your spleen at that, Sunshine!

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Headmaster

@Spleen

Also known, rather wonderfully in my view, as Muphry's Law.

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@AC

Just as "must be able to use a computer" and "must be able to write coherently" and "must be able to breath, not through mouth" should be but never are.

Must be able to breath. There is no verb "to breath". Breathe damn it!

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Headmaster

Oh Good!

I now fervently hope (or should that be hope fervently) that everyone in NZ now sues MicroShit et al, for shouting licence agreements at them.....

Grammar has some silly rules up which I will not put

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Pirate

Not too quick on the uptake

Having worked for people like this in the past, I would not have been all that sorry to see her go. If a managerial type has to be held to a minimum level of education and to a minimum level of communication skills, then she fails the test and should go. The problem is that there are probably many more feckless people in the organization that should have gone first.

I used to have a manager who (unintentionally) wrote her emails in Yoda-ese, and it was a never ending source of amusement to us to repeat them in Yoda's voice. She took it in pretty good grace -- it was just the way her brain worked. Down deep, she was a very talented and intelligent IT manager, just that her personal demons kept her from being as effective as she could have been.

However, this woman sounds like a first class tin pot "look at me, I'm in charge" hitler. I'd have canned her, too, for pissing off the troops to the point where they don't get any more work done while they're standing around the water cooler bitching about her. The root problem is that the higher-ups have no sense of creativity when it comes to firing skills. The firing gimme here is that they could have found a minority/opposite gender employee, asked him if he/she felt threatened by loud, shouting voices, reminded him/her that all caps emails are considered shouting, and then fired the manager for creating a threatening environment. People get fired all the time for creating threatening environments -- new age psycho BS that it is, it works just fine for cleaning house, and wouldn't have made the papers and created a PR nightmare that will cause more managerial heads to roll. I still can't figure out if that's a good thing or not.

In cases like this, you have to ask yourself, "What would Blackbeard do?"

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Headmaster

@By Anonymous Coward Posted Tuesday 1st September 2009 13:15 GMT

Not as much as "You know", i've stopped watching Tv just for this reason if i hear 1 more person say "You know" i'm going postal, in my day people simply said erm while there brain caught up with there mouth.

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Market niche?

Maybe Clippie could pop up when I start typing in capitals and offer 'It looks like you're typing a shout. What volume would you like to set your shout at?' A volume slider (from 1 to 11 of course) would then format the mail automatically. 1 would equate to e e cummings-style all lower case. 11 would be red, block capitals, 72pt Comic Sans with an attached wav file of Motorhead.

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@SPLEEN

COPY AND PASTE RUWENED MY LIFE AND ALMSOT COST ME MY EGO!!!111 BACK TOO SCHOOL 4 ME!1!!LOL

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@Thomas Shulze

I now have a new sig file!

CAPS LOCK IS CRUISE CONTROL FOR AWESOME!

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confronting? Bollocks, this is confronting.......F^%$ O*&^

Now that you have all finished barbacueing the poor lady for her use of ALL CAPS, why don't you actually have a look at the email itself, yes....I know, actually look at the evidence first, novel idea aye? Just to help, here is a link to an article with a reproduction of the email in question.

First thing we notice, it isn't actually ALL in CAPS, just the last sentence, ibviously to make it stand out more, quite likely she has had people ignore her previous emails, or when she askes them why they didn't do as she asked probakly mumbled soemthing like "oh I didn't see it hidden down there at the bottom."

The other thing we notice is that the only bit of colour used is in the date and time, obviously an inportant deadline if its in red, should make people notice this time aye? Well they did notice it, enough to get her sacked!

All in all as a confronting email it fails on several points, for a start it contains the word PLEASE (yes in caps I must admit) and any email that contains the word please is not very confronting at all, and there are NO SWEAR WORDS (either in caps or as far as I can tell in the small writing). As an excuse for sacking someone it seems to me to be just that, an excuse.

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Never quite got this 'shouting' thing . . . .

I know it's considered to be 'shouting' when capitals are used - at least that's the convention, but do grown-ups seriously get all upset when they receive an email that's in capitals? Do those who are reduced to apoplexy when faced with an overabundance of upper case characters have this vision in their heads of someone actually shouting at them? (I'd like to emphasise the word 'actually' here - but if I put it in capitals I'm afraid some eejit may get upset because I'm 'shouting', apparently).

Text in capitals is a bit of a pain to read, admittedly, but I'm at a loss to understand why people get so upset. Lord only knows what these fragile types would do if someone really did shout at them.

There must be more to the reported story than this person simply firing off a few emails in the wrong case - surely to God? Personally, I'd have fired those people who got so 'upset' by thinking they were being 'shouted' at - they're the over-sensitive numpties who need dealing with.

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Silver badge

Bah!

[4 A J Stiles] Rubbish. If it bugs you that much, have a word with the "offender" and/or use a script to put it right. A single line of perl should be able to make you a happy camper.

I have a colleague who whines in full cap mode about someone who sends him 18 point font e-mails. He is so busy being cleverer than everyone else that is has never occured to him he could hit ctrl-A and resize the damn writing before reading (a three keystroke operation with our e-mail client), and it would apparently choke the very life from him to pick up a phone and alert the "offender".

The office manager at my place sends out "ransome note" e-mails, designed to make creative use of the colour palette and font selections. Does this bug me? A bit, but rather than obsess about it I simply wrote a filter to file his blithering somewhere until I'm in a receptive mood and can read his stuff as comedy.

But the salient point here is that the annoying woman in question received no warning that her behaviour was considered a disciplinary matter.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if you don't tell someone they are the root cause of a perceived problem, you shouldn't expect tham to fix it. This isn't Star Wars and no-one can use "The Force", though it seems more and more people expect some sort of spontaneous behaviour modification in today's world.

I have to wonder when we in the western world decided that talking to each other was unacceptable.

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