Email can be a useful tool, but it can also cause problems by leaving a permanent trail of wrongdoing or presumed wrongdoing. In an entry on the Ohio Employer’s Law blog, Jon Hyman, a labor and employment group partner at Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, discusses a case that demonstrates why companies need to monitor employee email.

The case is Shazor v. Professional Transit Mgmt. Inc. Hyman says it’s interesting for many reasons, including its “sex-plus” theory of discrimination recognizing that race and sex are not mutually exclusive, and protecting the “African-American woman as a class of their own.”

Equally important, he says, is how the plaintiff avoided summary judgment by submitting emails between two corporate executives, in which they unflatteringly referred to her as a “prima donna,” “disloyal, disrespectful” and a “hellava bitch.”

Hyman says that Shazor successfully argued that they were code for “angry black woman” or “uppity black woman,” and the court used them “as prima facie evidence of discrimination in support of her ‘sex-plus’ claim.”

When it comes to communication, don’t write it down, email, text, Facebook or tweet it unless you are prepared to see it on the front page of a newspaper or have it read in front of a judge or jury, warns Hyman.