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Insults through emoji?

This post is also available in: Deutsch

My office is as digital as it gets, I am fully digitally accessible and overwhelmingly my clients are dealing with digital content. And yet, I keep running into legal issues in the digital space that I hadn’t considered before.

For example, the question of whether it is possible to insult someone with the help of an emoji!

And who suspects it? There are even judgments on this. So the question has actually been dealt with by judges. And courts have already confirmed the fundamental possibility of an insult in both the criminal and labor law context. So be careful when you call in anger as a “fat” (written out) pig (emoticon) or with a bear or monkey head (emoticon). In a labor court case in Baden-Württemberg, this was in fact confirmed by the competent labor court as an insult to senior employees that took place during a heated discussion on Facebook. Only in view of the employee’s sixteen years of unobjectionable service did the whole thing not lead to termination without notice. The Regional Labor Court ruled that a warning would have sufficed in this case. In principle, however, the behavior would have been sufficient, judged finally even the Federal Labor Court!

Overall, however, it can be stated that what would have a legal consequence in written or spoken words, be it an insult relevant under criminal law or behavior to be sanctioned under labor law, cannot be concealed by trivializing emojis.

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.


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