After many weeks of a stressful situation with extensive hours and demands, employee cracked and responded in a way they shouldn't (spoke harshly to boss in front of others in the office) in response to something relatively innocuous.

Result, a disciplinary hearing for unprofessional behaviour - explained reasons /mitigation in the meeting but these were essentially dismissed ("should have spoken up before" etc) and the reprimand upheld and put on file for a period. Didn't speak up before because of already feeling stressed and intimidated due to various company politics etc. some of which had already been unofficially brought up but disregarded.

Employee now constantly in fear of something else generating an additional/further warning and as a result willing to do any unreasonable hours etc to get things done and not speak up.

Is the warning justified or what should have been done differently?

closed as off-topic by IDrinkandIKnowThings, mcknz, Joel Etherton, scaaahu, Dawny33 Oct 23 '15 at 4:15

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    You can't always control stress. You can control when and how you vent it. Develop that skill ... – keshlam Oct 23 '15 at 2:50

Is the warning justified?


The employee, presumably you, should sit down with the boss and calmly come up with a plan for how best to go forward. Keeping everything in until you blow your lid isn't professional.

Ultimately, no one can help you until you let them know there's a problem.

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    Comments deleted. Constructive requests for clarification/expansion/etc are fine, but the discussion here was turning into something else. – Monica Cellio Oct 22 '15 at 21:13
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    Sometimes you can't help being cranky, but you can fix it before it gets out of hand. I have been under a lot of stress in and outside of work and had a heated conversation with a colleague. After I walked away and calmed down, I turned right back around and apologized. I was out of line and I knew it, and I made sure that everyone that was involved in that conversation or that might have overheard that exchange knew I knew it and regretted it. I didn't get reprimanded, although there might have been a conversation behind closed doors if I hadn't apologized promptly. – ColleenV Oct 22 '15 at 21:41
  • This does Depend on the language used and if it was first offence in some cases a verbal warning might be justified - you did have some one supporting you at the hearing I hope? – Pepone Oct 22 '15 at 22:28

Speaking harshly to the boss in front of others is a fair reprimand. What should have been done differently is not speak harshly to the boss in front of others. There are not mitigating reasons - you did it or you did not. They pretty much have to do something about it to send a message to others. Not that big a deal if it is just a reprimand for a period. Just put your head down and do your job. I suspect you have learned your lesson on harsh words in public.

If you speak harshly to the coach on the field or in the media you are going to get benched. They have to set boundaries. What you can say behind closed doors is different but you still should state your grievances in a professional tone.


I would say that the employee committed a major blunder. The major blunder was not his speaking harshly to his boss - that was a minor blunder. The major blunder was that he worked so hard that he cracked. No job, no company, no manager is so great that an employee should take on such a lot of stress.

The employee was very naive. He did not understand the fact that the workplace is merely a place of exchange - the employee provides skill and labor and in return s/he gets a paycheck and benefits from the employer. The exchange must be fair to both the employee as well as the employer. If an employee has to take on so much stress that he cracks then he is letting his employer cheat him in the exchange. This happens when an employee brings ambition, greed for money and other vanity based notions into his job. If he gradually curbs such tendencies then he will no longer take on such pointless levels of stress. There will be fewer occasions when he cracks and he will have a much better quality of life.

  • What made you think he worked so hard? Did he say he worked 80 hours a week? – scaaahu Oct 23 '15 at 3:47
  • @scaaahu Perhaps not 80 hour weeks per se, but extended hours in "crisis mode" for a long period. – user10237 Oct 23 '15 at 9:13

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