IT employee sues boss after mistaking his initials for lewd reference, email abbreviations for sexual advances
A tech worker in England tried to sue her former boss after apparently believing email abbreviations he used, such as “xx” and “???,” were codes asking for a sexual relationship.
Karina Gasparova, an IT worker at “paperless global trade management” company essDOCS, filed a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit against her boss Alexander Goulandris outlining alleged misbehavior dating back to 2019, according to the Independent. A judge threw the case out after an employment tribunal at London Central Court heard Gasparova’s claims.
The IT employee claimed that Goulandris’ use of “xx” in emails to her were attempts to kiss her, “yy” was code for sexual contact and “???” was coded language inquiring “when she would be ready” to engage in a sexual relationship.
Gasparova, who represented herself, pointed to an email as evidence of her claims, arguing it showed Goulandris’ alleged desire to “engage in sexual acts.”
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“Can you please complete the following: The solution us currently used by xx Agris companies and yy Barge lines in corn cargoes in south-north flows in the ???? waterways,” Goulandris wrote in the email to Gasparova, according to the BBC, citing evidence that was heard in court. “Also, can you remind me of what the balance of the rollout will be and the approx. timing. Thanks.”
The tribunal said the email was a “genuine request for information” and did not insinuate Goulandris wanted a sexual relationship.
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Gasparova additionally claimed that when Goulandris changed a file name to his initials “AJG,” the acronym actually stood for “A Jumbo Genital” and that he touched her hand one day while reaching for a computer mouse. She also argued that Goulandris used “an alluring voice” to tell her to “have a nice evening,” and that he “stared at her” and allegedly touched her leg under a table during an incident in November 2019.
The tribunal ruled that the 2019 incident was “innocuous” and accidental. The judge threw the case out and ruled Gasparova “skewed perception of everyday events” and “demonstrated a tendency to make extraordinary allegations without evidence,” according to the BBC.
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Gasparova told the tribunal that she told company higher-ups that Goulandris treated her poorly because she “rejected his advances.”
Gasparova, who was hired at the company in 2019, filed a formal grievance letter in April 2021 against Goulandris over the alleged incidents. She resigned after the complaint was rejected, according to the outlet.
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Gasparova was ordered to pay £5,000, roughly $6,200, to essDOCS to cover costs.