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Text messages allegedly led to a workplace discrimination lawsuit

Many Massachusetts residents use text messaging as a regular form of communication, but can those messages get someone fired if an employee is texting his or her employer? An out-of-state woman claims that she suffered a wrongful termination because of messages that she had sent to her manager over a three-month period. She claims that she faced workplace discrimination because her superior was not held accountable along with her.

The woman worked for the city for 11 years, with her last position being an executive assistant. According to the complaint, she regularly texted with her manager both during work and after. Some of the other texts that she had allegedly sent were regular conversations that were personal. There were also conversations that were work-related that involved her superior giving her words of encouragement for her job. Others were the plaintiff expressing complaints to the manager, but he apparently did not reply.

The conversations between the two continued until the plaintiff reportedly sent some unprofessional messages. The texts that she sent to him apparently contained explicit language and included complaints about additional work that she did not want to do that was not part of her job description. This was when her superior stopped responding, and the plaintiff was fired for insubordination.

Only the last five messages that the plaintiff sent to her manager -- the ones that resulted in her firing -- were included in her personnel file. All of the other texts, including the ones that her manager had sent back to her, were all allegedly disregarded, and the city did not see both sides of the story. The plaintiff is accusing the city of a wrongful termination and violation of the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act because she was fired due to her gender. It is unlawful for Massachusetts employers to engage in workplace discrimination based on their workers' legally protected statuses, including gender. Those who believe that they have been victimized have the right to pursue claims through the civil court system.

Source: mlive.com, "City worker fired over messages regularly texted with manager", Andrew Dodson, Feb. 11, 2016

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