ALL CAPS Blunder Shows Critical Need for E-Mail Policies!

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"Is it ok to fire someone for misuse of the caps lock button?"


That is one of the questions addressed in one of IT Business Edge editor Lora Bentley's latest blog posts, which details the saga of an employee fired for excessive e-mails containing bolded text in all caps. To recap, Vicki Walker, a health care worker in New Zealand, had her employment terminated when her bosses deemed her consistent use of red, bolded text in all caps to be confrontational and the cause of disharmony in the workplace. Walker cried foul and subsequently won a wrongful termination lawsuit against her former employer.


So what could have prevented this drama and protected the company and employee? An e-mail use policy, for sure, argues Bentley. However, after looking at a dozen or so such policies from a Google search, I have yet to find a policy that addresses the issue of all caps. Was this an isolated problem or is this a growing problem with interoffice e-mail? Does your company have any specific language related to all caps use or confrontational e-mails? Send us your e-mail policies so that we can see if anyone is addressing this particular concern.


The Knowledge Network contains a couple of resources related to E-mail and Web Policies, with a specific emphasis on e-mail security.


Sample E-mail and Virus Security Policy

Guidelines on Electronic Mail Security