Not 'OK'? Chinese Woman Sacked for Replying to Her Boss' Message with an Emoji

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The manager took issue with employee's OK emoji response.

A Chinese woman lost her job for apparently hurting the fragile ego of her boss who insists employees use “Roger” when replying to his messages.

The employee was fired from a bar in central China, after replying to her manager with an OK emoji on instant messaging app WeChat, according to Btime news site quoted by South China Morning Post (SCMP).

The manager of the bar in Changsha, Hunan province, tagged the employee in the team’s WeChat group last week, asking her to send over some meeting documents. He took issue with her OK emoji response, saying “You should use text to reply to the message if you have received it. Don’t you know the rules?”

“Is this your acknowledgement of receipt?” the manager asked.

A few minutes later he told the employee to contact the human resources department and sort out her resignation.

“This is a real case, the resignation is still being processed,” the employee was quoted as saying. “I have worked for many years and this is my first encounter with this kind of stupid situation. I am good-tempered therefore I didn’t retaliate.”

The woman said her colleagues agreed that the manager’s behaviour had gone too far, adding that, after the incident, he had sent out an official announcement to the group, insisting everyone use “Roger” when replying to messages.

Screenshots of the conversation went viral on microblogging site Weibo, with comments slamming the manager for firing his employee over an emoji reply.

“Any reason is valid if your boss wants to fire you”, read one, while another said “To be honest, I would not reply to his message”

“I think a good leader should be able to accept different people’s communication styles and characteristics,” another Weibo user wrote, according to SCMP.

Wang Li-ping, a Renmin Business School professor specialising in management and human resources, said that “of course this is an arbitrary reason to fire an employee”.

“But this is what may happen in small and medium-sized companies as they may not have a comprehensive regulation or system related to this kind of situation,” Wang said.

Earlier this month, an employee was scolded for “lacking basic WeChat manners” for replying “Um” in Chinese, which means “noted”, according to a report in regional newspaper the Chongqing Chen Bao.