Iʻm a manager and I said "fuck you" to a coworker who has been pushing my buttons for months. I apologized a few minutes later. Now, Iʻm on unpaid leave and it looks like I might lose my job. Does my employer have grounds to fire me?
1 Answer from Attorneys
The first question is always whether there is an actual employment agreement in place. If so, that needs to be looked over, but in most cases this would amount to just cause - you know, abusive behavior, etc. But assuming you are like the vast majority of employees in the country, you are "at will" which means you can be fired for any reason or no reason just like you can quit for any reason or no reason. If there is a handbook or other written policies that speak to this, such as a requirement that the employer give you a warning or two, this can be binding on them but not in all circumstances. For example, your words might have been FU - just words, but if your behavior was threatening to the other employee the employer is not obligated to keep you on if it poses a safety risk or something like that.
If you have concerns, consult with a HI employment lawyer that has experience representing employees, not just the employers.