An Australian real estate agent’s failure to use proper punctuation in a Facebook post could cost him tens of thousands of dollars, according to a report by The New York Times.
In the post last year, Anthony Zadravic appears to accuse his former employer, Stuart Gan, of denying retirement funds to his agency’s workers.
At issue is the word “employees” in the post, which read: “Oh Stuart Gan!! Selling multi million $ homes in Pearl Beach but can’t pay his employees superannuation,” referring to Australia’s retirement system, in which employers pay money into super accounts for employees.
The post was deleted 12 hours later, but not before catching the eye of Gan, who promptly filed a defamation claim against Zadravic.
Last week, a judge in New South Wales ruled that the lack of an apostrophe on the word “employees” could be read to suggest a “systematic pattern of conduct” by Gan’s agency rather than an accusation involving one employee, the report said.
While court documents suggest that Zadravic meant to have added an apostrophe, the judge assigned to the case allowed it to proceed, citing other similar cases.
“The difficulty for the plaintiff is the use of the word ‘employees’ in the plural. To fail to pay one employee’s superannuation entitlement might be seen as unfortunate; to fail to pay some or all of them looks deliberate,” said Judge Judith Gibson in a statement.
The trial could cost Zadravic more than $180,000.