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Managing the Modern Workplace
V&E International Labor & Employment Resources

  • 11
  • July
  • 2019


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How Emojis Can Cause Trouble in the Workplace

As emojis have morphed from a cute novelty into a staple element of business communication, they have begun to pose liability risks to companies. Many of these risks stem from the fact that emojis lack universal definitions, can have multiple — often subjective — meanings, and look different on different messaging platforms. This means that emoji use can easily lead to misunderstandings between sender and recipient, which in a business setting can have consequences ranging from contract claims to allegations of harassment and discrimination. Business litigation in which emojis are key evidence has increased significantly in recent years, and shows no sign of abating.  Employees’ use of emojis to supplement text or provide an emotional valence can also enhance liability risk. This occurred memorably in Apatoff v. Munich Re America Services, where the use of emojis by managers led to denial of a company’s motion for summary judgment against a claim of wrongful termination under the Family Medical Leave Act.  2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106665 (D.N.J. Aug. 1, 2014).

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Thomas H. Wilson

Thomas H. Wilson Partner

Christopher V. Bacon

Christopher V. Bacon Counsel

Sean Becker

Sean Becker Partner

Stephen M. Jacobson

Stephen M. Jacobson Partner

Martin C. Luff

Martin Luff Counsel

Lawrence S. Elbaum Partner