Employment and Migration Blog

Managing Workplace Behaviour: Swearing AT your manager is not acceptable, even if swearing in the workplace is common practice!

Posted by Anna Ford on 29 Aug 2014

If there was ever any doubt, the Fair Work Commission has confirmed a definite distinction between swearing IN the workplace, and swearing AT someone in the workplace (whether it be a manager or another employee).

In the case of Mark Baldwin v Scientific Management Associates (Operations) Pty Ltd [2014] FWC 5175 (1 August 2014), the employee called his manager offensive names using expletive language and told him that he was not “helping my stress levels”.

Following the incident, the matter was investigated and the employee was terminated for serious misconduct. The employee subsequently filed an unfair dismissal claim asserting his language was normal for the workplace, and that he had not been given any previous warnings about his language.

The FWC accepted that swearing in that particular workplace was not uncommon, but held that there was a “difference between swearing in the workplace per se and swearing directed to one’s manager (or to another employee)”, and that therefore the employee’s conduct totally justified summary dismissal.

For further advice on managing workplace behaviour please contact our experienced employment lawyer: