September 23, 2023

Misinterpreted Email Signatures Lead to Lawsuit: IT Worker’s Sexual Harassment Claims Dismissed

An IT worker recently filed a lawsuit against her boss, accusing him of sexual harassment due to a misunderstanding of the use of ‘xx’ in work emails. Karina Gasparova, an IT project manager, made a series of elaborate claims against Aleksander Goulandris, alleging that his email signatures, file names, and video call behavior suggested a desire for a sexual relationship.

Gasparova interpreted Goulandris’ use of ‘xx’ in an email, which he intended to mark areas where he required additional information, as a symbol of affection. In that same email, Gasparova further claimed that Goulandris’ use of question marks implied his interest in engaging in sexual acts with her.

During work calls, Gasparova also alleged that her superior attempted to flirt with her by running his hands through his hair and staring at her, despite the conversations being strictly business-related. Furthermore, she misinterpreted Goulandris renaming a file with his initials, ‘AJG,’ as an acronym indicating “a jumbo genital.”

Ms. Gasparova pursued a sexual harassment case against her employer, essDOCS, a paperless documents firm, at an employment tribunal. However, the judge dismissed her claims, ruling that Gasparova exhibited a skewed perception of everyday events and attempted to find sinister motives where none existed.

The judgment highlights the importance of clear communication and understanding in the workplace. It serves as a reminder that misinterpretations can occur, leading to misguided allegations. Employers should strive to maintain open channels of communication and ensure employees have a clear understanding of workplace interactions to prevent such misunderstandings and unwarranted accusations.

While this case emphasizes the need for sensitivity to potential harassment situations, it also underscores the significance of objective evaluation and fair judgment when addressing claims in the workplace.