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Keep Workplace Emails and Texts Professional

Posted On: January, 21 2015

We’ve all heard an embarrassing story where a person hit “send” before the email or text was finished, sent a sensitive email to the entire group when it was intended for only one recipient, or stated something that he or she instantly regretted in an email or text.

On September 9, 2011 the Toronto Star reported on a wrongful dismissal lawsuit that has been started by a former office assistant at a prominent Canadian criminal defence firm. The Plaintiff, Ms. Tracy Francis alleges that she was fired without cause. She is claiming wrongful dismissal damages in the amount of $106,000 and “moral damages” of $85,000 for the bad faith manner in which she was fired.

The law firm refutes the allegations and has stated in its defence that it fired Ms. Francis for cause as a result of “… persistent, vexatious, offensive and discriminatory” email correspondence about a firm lawyer. Ms. Francis denies this and claims that it is the law firm itself that has an entrenched culture of emails between lawyers that disparage other lawyers and the judiciary.

While none of the allegations in the above case have been proven in court, this wrongful dismissal case provides a good opportunity to review common dos and don’ts with respect to writing emails or texting in a workplace setting. For both employers and employees, the following is a list of practical yet important guidelines for emailing or texting in the workplace:

  1. Keep your emails or texts professional, respectful, and positive;
  2. Maintain professionalism by avoiding personal comments;
  3. Do not send an email or text while you are angry or upset;
  4. Do not send an email or text if you are under the influence of alcohol or other mind-altering substances;
  5. Don’t say anything in an email or text that you would not want to appear publicly;
  6. Do not name call, threaten, or resign abruptly in an email or text;
  7. Be careful not to mix up “reply” and “reply all” in an email; and
  8. Fill in the “TO” email address last to avoid unintentionally sending an email before it is ready.

Remember, emailing and texting are now standard forms of communication in the workplace and both are commonly used as evidence by both employers and employees in litigation. Bottom line: use common sense and judgment before drafting a workplace communication which may transmit the wrong professional message about you.

 

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