It seems pretty clear that if you accidentally text your boss calling him a dick, you should be fired. But an Australian woman who just lost her court battle for “unfair dismissal” has a different take.
Louise Nesbitt is a former employee of Dragon Mountain Gold, a minerals company based in Perth. The “dick” in question is Robert Gardner, the company’s chairman and managing director. In January, Nesbitt’s daughter’s boyfriend was coming to the office to do some plumbing work, and she texted him a word of warning about Gardner.
Except she didn’t text the boyfriend. She texted Gardner.
In the message, Nesbitt referred to Gardner as a “complete dick,” adding, “We know this already so please try your best not to tell him that regardless of how you feel the need.”
She quickly realized her mistake, as one usually does after sending a text to the wrong recipient, and sent a series of desperate backpedaling follow-up messages.
“Rob please delete without reading. I am so so so sorry. Xxx.”
“Rob I need to explain … that message came across so wrong.”
“Rob … that is not how I feel. My sense of humour is to exaggerate.”
Nesbitt added that calling him a dick was a “joke within our family.” Then she figured while she had his attention, she’d voice some grievances: “But that’s ok it’s not my building and all I can do is put forward suggestions and hope one or two get implemented.”
“It is not how I feel. It is so far out of context,” she added. “Please forget it and just go on as normal. I am very very sorry.”
A+ for effort, but not good enough. Nesbitt was fired and an Australian court denied Nesbitt’s claim in late March. The court’s decision read in part:
“On the evidence, I am not persuaded that when Ms Nesbitt referred to Mr Gardner as “a complete dick”, it was her sense of humour to exaggerate or, that it was “light hearted insult” or it should be read in the context of the person it was meant for. It was far from a “light hearted insult”, it was a hurtful and unpleasant appraisal of the Chairman and Managing Director of her Employer, for whom she earned $95,000 per annum.”
Better luck next time.