Can I be reprimanded at work for sending a personal e-mail to someone I supervise with an opinion of my boss in it?

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Can I be reprimanded at work for sending a personal e-mail to someone I supervise with an opinion of my boss in it?

I am taking FMLA time due to adopting 2 children. I am working part-time. I supervise the nurses on my unit. We were having some issues with a nurse and my direct boss e-mailed me at home and asked me to deal with this nurse. I sent her an e-mail saying that the administrator is negative and not going to change and that this nurse was risking her job by causing problems. This nurse then forwarded the e-mail that I sent to several of her friends, one of whom decided to print it and show it to the administrator who now has given me a 1 day suspension for going against policy and not supporting her.

Asked on February 4, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can be reprimanded at work for sending an email--personal or not--that is critical of a boss. Indeed, as a general matter, you could be fired for making negative comments about a boss, whether orally or in an email. There is no workplace protection for commens you make, and unless you have an employment contract to the contrary, you are an "employee at will," subject to discipline or termination at will. If you do have an employment contract and it specifies either the specific grounds for discipline or a disciplinary process, then the terms of that contract must be honored; but without a contract (including a union agreement), you are, as noted, an employee at will and unprotected.


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