Misunderstandings can lead to serious consequences, especially in the professional world. In a recent legal battle in London, an IT worker named Karina Gasparova sued her boss for sexual harassment, believing that symbols such as “xx” and “yy” in an email were coded messages for sexual advances.

Presented as evidence, the email from her boss read:

“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.

Also, can you remind me of what the balance of the rollout will be and the approx. timing.


The London Central Court, after examining the evidence, concluded that Ms. Gasparova’s perception of events was skewed. Despite the allegations, the employment tribunal panel found no implication of sexual nature and rejected her claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, and unfair dismissal.

At essDOCS, a renowned company specializing in paperless trade solutions, Ms. Gasparova worked as a project manager. Her superior, Alexander Goulandris, was accused of trying to engage in inappropriate relations, with allegations including coded email messages and deliberate physical touches.

This case highlights the importance of clear communication in the workplace and serves as a stark reminder of the potential risks associated with misinterpretation. The tribunal’s verdict reinforces the need for evidence-based allegations, particularly in sensitive matters such as sexual harassment.

For businesses and employees alike, this incident underscores the value of maintaining professional boundaries and fostering a respectful work environment. The tribunal panel’s rejection of Ms. Gasparova’s claims, along with the order to pay £5,000 costs to essDOCS, emphasizes the seriousness of the issue and the importance of responsible conduct.