Is it illegal for your employer to yell at you in public?

UPDATED: Nov 3, 2011

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Is it illegal for your employer to yell at you in public?

At work yesterday my employer asked me if everything was OK. I replied yes. He then raised his voice, to actually yelling at me, and asked “What the hell happened on Sunday?”. I wasn’t understanding what he meant and he went on about one of his side things that was left for me to clean up. I was asked on Saturday to do the dishes from that side thing and that was it. I did them. He went on and on about what I didn’t do and how he has other people begging for jobs and I’m an adult, etc. A little while after he left, the bartender across the way came and told me she saw the whole thing.

Asked on November 3, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

While highly unprofessional, there may not be anything that you can do about it from a legal standpoint. Workplace harassment is illegal but such a claim may not be applicable here. This form of harassment has to do with a superior or co-worker creating an environment that is so hostile that it prevents the employee from performing their job duties in a reasonable manner. This can be done either by behavior or actions.  

Typically however these behaviors and/or actions must be "discriminatory" and not just a result of unprofessional or rude conduct.  In an employment setting, discrimination is action taken against an employee because that employee is a member of a "protected class" (i.e. their treatment must not be based on a person's race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, etc). A hostile work environment also includes retaliatory action and sexual harassment.

Based on the facts that you have presented however, while your employer's remarks were most unprofessional, they do not appear to rise to the level of an actionable claim. Unless that is, there is a stated company policy covering such a situation or you are protected by an employment/union agreement to the contrary (or as stated above, if your treatment was due to some type of discrimination or the like).

Still, you may want to consult an employment law attorney and go over all details of your case. They can best advise at you your rights and remedies, if any.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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