In light of my most recent article on James Damore’s fiasco at Google, the comments section have proven a lack of consensus between personal and professional behaviors, attitudes, and actions that should or shouldn’t be allowed in the workplace.
Freedom of speech is undoubtedly not only an American ideal, but a universal basic human right. However, when you are at work, being paid by an organization, and receiving financial gains for your labor, freedom of speech (and behavior) will be inevitably limited by the freedoms allowed to you by your organization.
For the benefit of men, women, individual contributors, managers, and chief executives across all industries, here are 10 Universal Behaviors you will be fired for, if you’re caught speaking out about, writing about, or in middle of doing:
#1. Inappropriate sexual conduct and harassment. When you say, write, or publicly share: disparaging, innuendo-heavy, and direct comments on anyone’s appearance, body shape, sexuality, and attractiveness to a point that brings discomfort to the target of your actions or the general work environment, you will have crossed a line.
In today’s world where text messages are easily traced, emails easily discovered, and deleted social media easily retrieved, you’ll be at high risk of termination if you consistently engage in aggressive sexual overtures to people* at work.
*Note: People = men + women
#2. Being prejudiced in any way, shape, or form. You can’t say the n-word at work. You can sing along to it in your car, you can make as many comments about race, sex, or religion in your free time, but you can’t do it while you’re being paid by an organization. Whether you’re drunk, joking, or simply ignorant, when you’re caught making a prejudiced gaffe, prepare for the repercussions.
In today’s world, with social media capturing every moment, be aware that your comments, attacks, and bullying may be caught on camera, putting you at risk to be fired. You can’t tell your colleagues to “go back to where they came from” or that they don’t deserve to be at work due to affirmative action.
#3. Attributing work results to one’s gender, race, or station in life. You can admonish people for being incompetent, ineffective, or otherwise disorganized for doing a task incorrectly, but you can’t attribute it to something they’re naturally born with. That includes their skin color (race), their sexual makeup (gender), and their socioeconomic class/region into which they’re born.
#4. Personal behaviors unsuitable to be shared within your work environment. This includes porn-watching, drug-use, and other personal proclivities. You can go to the strip club or casino or drug den as often as you’d like to in your own time. You can’t do it while at work or during work hours or on travel paid for or related to work.
As a nudist, you can walk around naked freely in your own home or nudists’ beach. However, if you do that on a busy street, you’ll be arrested for indecent exposure.
#5. Yelling at, screaming at, or otherwise crossing a verbal, oral, written, or physical line with colleagues, management, vendors, and stakeholders. Example #1: If someone messes up your delivery order at work (they would be considered a vendor), you can’t scream at them the way you could if this was a delivery to your home.
Example #2: If your parents make you upset, you can scream, yell, and argue with them. To regular acquaintances, bosses, colleagues, or anyone that comes into contact with you at work, you can’t treat them like you could your family members.
Example #3: If you write an insulting critique of someone’s basic human qualities (race, gender, religious beliefs), you may open yourself up to termination. This is why James Damore was fired. Whether you use flowery language, as James did, or profanity and vulgarity, you are equally likely to be fired.
#6. Physical violence, for obvious reasons. It’s important to note: even social events can be considered work events. Example: More than 10 colleagues attend a mutual friend’s birthday party. Even if no superiors are involved nor have sponsored the party, the sheer number of attendees makes the social event now a work event. A legal case can be made against any perpetrators of violence that this was a work-related injury, thus open to termination.
This is a true story; my old employer had to fire someone who punched another colleague at a non-work-related event, simply due to number of colleagues present, making the event a work matter even though it was social in nature.
#7. Personal vices. Whether that’s beating your spouse (retraining orders can cause you to lose your job), doing drugs, having a low credit score (yes, offers can still be rescinded due to poor credit), gambling, or any other unsavory and immoral behavior, (debatable or not), you could be terminated should your company find out.
#8. Criminal activity. Should your personal vices get out of control, you could actually be arrested, arraigned, or legally liable for a criminal act. DUIs fall into this category. You could potentially lose your existing job and future offers based on your criminal record. Even if you are currently employed, you could lose your job if your company finds out you’ve recently committed a crime.
#9. Incompetence. It goes without saying that you could be fired for underperformance. If you can’t rectify your performance issues within a remedial period, you could be laid off or fired.
#10. Lying, cheating, or stealing. Should you be caught fudging your sales activities or stealing client/customer data, you could be immediately terminated.
These are the 10 universal behaviors that are guaranteed to make you unemployed, sooner or later. If you have any more to add, please comment below.
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