Last year, the inability to produce subpoenaed e-mail resulted in million dollar… lawsuits
against U.S. companies…. 24% of organizations have had employee e-mail subpoenaed, and
15% of companies have gone to court to battle lawsuits triggered by employee e-mail….
Increasingly, employers are… firing workers who violate computer privileges. Fully 26% of
employers have terminated employees for e-mail misuse… 2% have dismissed workers for inap-
propriate instant messenger (IM) chat [and] nearly 2% have fired workers for offensive blog con-
tent—including posts on employees' personal home-based blogs.
AMERICAN MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION (AMA) AND THE EPOLICY INSTITUTE 20θ6
WORKPLACE E-MAIL, INSTANT MESSAGING & BLOG SURVEY.
Neal Patterson, the chief executive of the Cerner Corporation in Kansas City, Missouri, sent 400
managers an angry e-mail, berating them for not getting more than 40 hours of work a week out
of their employees: “The parking lot is sparsely used at 8 a.m.; likewise at5p.m… you have a
problem and you will fix it or I will replace you….” After the… e-mail [was] posted on a
Yahoo message board, Cerner stock declined 22 percent.
FROM “STINGING OFFICE MEMO BOOMERANGS”
EDWARD WONG, THE NEW YORK TIMES, APRIL 5, 2001
E-mail is risky business indeed. Angry messages sent in the heat of the moment can damage relationships with colleagues and clients. Rude, abrupt messages lead to misunderstandings that can have serious consequences. Every week we hear about how the wrong e-mail sent to the wrong person (or people) has gotten an individual or an organization in trouble.
It's a fact that misuse of e-mail can harm you professionally and cost your organization in terms of money and reputation. That's what this chapter is about: the bad things that can happen when we neglect to consider e-mail's potential for causing damage.