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Can You be Fired for Office Gossip?

A 2012 study by Careerbuilder showed that 35 percent of workers felt bullied, and that 17 percent of these workers actually quit their jobs to get away from the bullying.

You may not consider being gossiped about bullying, but depending on the level and severity of the gossip and how it affects how you are treated in the workplace, it could very well qualify as harassment. Here are a few tips to remember when dealing with office gossip, whether you are the topic or you're tempted to chime in:

  • Don't believe everything you hear.
  • Confirm that the things you have heard are true before you act on them.
  • Contribute to the conversation at your own risk-take it for granted that what you say will be repeated.
  • Apologize and be honest if you get caught or confronted.

While some workplaces see fit to enact no-gossiping policies, workplace morale experts say a better approach is to create an open, honest work environment where employees feel comfortable making suggestions and giving feedback.

You can't be fired simply for talking about someone unless your company has a strict no-gossip policy that you agreed to. But when gossip turns to harassment, discrimination, or is aimed at someone in a protected class, they could have grounds for a lawsuit.

If you have been the target of workplace harassment, discrimination or unfair termination Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. represents clients in federal court and before the EEOC, MSPB and in state and union grievance hearings. Call Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. at 304.523.8451 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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