Oh, those kooky kiwis. In this story out of New Zealand, a woman in a healthcare administration office was fired after her supervisors deemed her e-mail correspondence "confrontational" because of her use (some would say overuse) of capital letters, colored and boldface fonts.

This New Zealand Herald article tells the tale of Vicki Walker, an accountant with ProCare Health, who was abruptly given the ax in 2007 after two years of employment.

While the company alleged that Walker's habit of "shouting," as writing in all capital letters is considered, was a regular occurrence, they only produced one e-mail when pressed by New Zealand's Employee Relations Authority, to which Walker appealed after her firing.


The e-mail was instructive in nature; it spelled out how employees were required to fill out a certain kind of form. The really crucial parts were capitalized and colored in blue, and the time-sensitive aspect of the process was highlighted in red and bold.

You can see the part that riled up her colleagues if you click on the link to the Herald article. If this really was the only e-mail in which Walker got creative with her fonts, she's lucky to have gotten out of that office, because it sounds like a soul-deadening place to work.

Now, people who write their e-mails in ALL CAPS are second only to people who send endless joke forwards in terms of the annoyance factor, but firing someone over the behavior is pretty extreme.

Fortunately for Walker, the Employee Relations Authority took this viewpoint as well, and awarded her $17,000 -- about $11,500 in U.S. dollars -- for wrongful termination. An Employee Relations Authority representative pointed out that the company didn't give employees any kind of a style guide or stipulate restrictions pertaining to things like what color font they use (who's willing to bet they do now?), so it wasn't fair to fire her for breaking rules that weren't written down anywhere.

We're all for harmony in the workplace and civility between coworkers, but the whole reason bold and colored fonts exist is so keyboard jockeys can call attention to the important stuff that someone might otherwise skip over.

I'm guessing Walker kicked these forms back for being improperly filled out on a regular basis and finally had it up to here with her fellow staffers blowing off the directions, so she wanted to make it perfectly clear how to perform the task.

Readers, what do you think? Was this a "capital" offense or were Walker's coworkers too thin-skinned? Tell us in the comments.

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