Humor Never Works…Especially When in the Hands of Opposing Counsel

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A client was reminded of a hard lesson today. Opposing counsel got her hands on an email that my client wrote to his employees. The email was meant to be a joke and was a satirical attempt to poke fun at the business and the business practices. It was never meant to be in the hands of opposing counsel. It was shocking to my client what opposing counsel was trying to say my client meant by the email, and what the its true meaning was. He shouldn’t be surprised and as a seasoned business owner, should know better. Be careful about what you write. It can stay around for a long, long time thanks to computers and hard drives and can and will be used against you.

So remember that humor never works in a workplace context…whether in an email or in any type of written document. There are too many ways that what you wrote and intended to be funny can be taken out of context and skewed to mean whatever opposing counsel wants it to mean. Maybe that meaning won’t be the one the judge or the jury will believe, but you will spend a lot of time convincing them of your version of what you wrote and defending yourself.

So don’t even bother…remember in a business setting, keep it business-like and avoid humor, or attempts at humor, in what you write. It can be used against you in ways you never imagined.


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