Is cursing at a co-worker considered workplace violence?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is cursing at a co-worker considered workplace violence?

A co-worker has been extremely rude to me for 5 years. She rolled her eyes

at me for asking a question so I said,

Asked on September 19, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

No, legally, cursing at someone is not violence: in the law, words are not assault and are not criminal (with some very narrow and fairly obvious exceptions--for example, a threat of violence is criminal).
However, an employer is free to set out its own definitions of what is or is not acceptable behavior at work, and can discipline, or even fire, someone for cursing at work. An employer can even call cursing at work workplace violence if it likes--that definition has no bearing or legal standing anywhere else or for any other purposes than discipline at that one employer, but because employers do set the rules for employment, would be valid there.

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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