Can an employee be fired for a belligerent tirade? Not necessarily, an employer should be careful when dealing with employee tirades. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed an employee’s right to discuss working conditions with their employer. The case involved a discussion about working conditions that degenerated when the employee shared some obscene opinions about his boss’s lack of popularity in the office. The discussion concluded with the employee pushing a chair aside and leaving his employer with a final thought; if fired, the employer would regret it. The employee was fired and litigation proceeded.
The question in the case was whether the employee was unfairly retaliated against for expressing his thoughts about his working conditions or whether the employer was justified in firing the employee to maintain order in the workplace. The Ninth Circuit considered the fact that the blast occurred in a private office away from other employees; that the topic of the conversation related to legally protected working conditions and compensation policies; and based on the appeal file, it considered whether the outburst was obscene and offensive or not.
The court noted that obscene and offensive outbursts are generally not protected, but decided the case by returning it to the Administrative Law Judge for clarification of factual findings as to whether the employees’ conduct was “belligerent” or not.
Lesson for Employees: Be courteous when discussing the terms and conditions of your employment with your employer. The law protects an employee from retaliation when an employee raises the issue of their working conditions.
Lesson for Employers: Be careful when responding to employee outbursts or belligerent employee behavior. This is especially true when the behavior is related to or associated with a discussion about working conditions or employee compensation. Do not retaliate against an employee who raises problems with their working conditions or compensation. This is true even when an employee might be a bit more polite when discussing the issue. Any adverse employment action taken in response to an employee raising issues with their wages or working conditions may be considered unlawful retaliation.
In summary, employers should avoid taking any type of adverse employment action against an employee who has raised issues with the terms and conditions of her employment. Take care to ensure that there can be no argument that the adverse employment action was retaliation for the employee’s legal right to discuss certain aspects of their employment, including working conditions, wages, overtime, or breaks for employment. eat and rest. Or whether or not co-workers like the boss.