Two secretaries at an Australian law firm lost their jobs a few days ago. Apparently they exchanged a series of escalating emails (read the series of emails from the bottom up) that all started with one of the secretaries either misplacing or having her lunch stolen.
The secretaries in question exchanged most of their emails “privately”, but one or both of them forwarded their exchange to a few co-workers. Those co-workers forwarded the exchange outside the law office…and soon it was all over the Internet. According to reports, the two secretaries had a long-standing face-to-face feud, and the email exchange was just an echo of this personal friction.
I don’t particularly blame the law office for firing the secretaries. Not so much for the email exchange, although that’s damaging to the firms’ reputation, but for being unable to act professionally. Mind you, I can imagine how much it would hurt to lose your job over something as silly a personality clash with a co-worker.
One thing this does make reasonably clear: the emails you send can and will come back to haunt you some day. And something as “innocent” as a private exchange of insults could cost you your job.