Using profanity while off the clock


New Member
I just clocked out for the day and I had an extremely rough day so I was on the phone venting. I suppose a customer heard me curse when I was not aware anyone was around me nor that I was in hearing distance of anyone. The following Monday I get called into the HR managers office in regards to that customers complaint about what they heard. He tells me he needs to talk to his supervisors about what actions are needed to make but termination is up for consideration. I apologized deeply and sincerely for the misconduct and explained that what happened is not who I am as an employee or person in general. Can they really fire me for a one time occurrence that I was unaware of?
But realize that the customer not only heard your profanity, but also whatever you were "venting" about -- if it was employment related (supervisor, coworker, other customers, product, etc) and this is a customer service/front facing position, that will probably be taken into account. And you were in a place to be overheard and didn't notice/ As will your less than 90 days of service. Unfortunately that is not a lot of time to build up any goodwill/work habits/performance for them to realize this is a "one-off" to your real personality/job performance. If anything, most employees do their very best in the beginning and then tend to get more comfortable over time.

There is a common law doctrine called "duty of loyalty" -- The laws in every state require that an employee refrain from behaving in a manner that would be contrary to his employer's interests...your employer isn't required to tolerate employee behavior that's contrary to its interests. You have a responsibility to your company that doesn't end when they clock out. -- from

I honestly would advise one of my managers to let you go...why? Because when people/employees show you who they are, believe them. Honestly, lots of employment issues could be solved if managers would follow this principle.

Lesson learned....don't vent/use profanity in your workplace even when you are not on the clock unless it is a protect concerted activity between employees who are working for better wages, working conditions, etc.
Best thing you can do is be humble, apologize, and say it will not happen again and hope they give you another chance. They are well within their rights.
Update: they did end up terminating me.

Time for you to make some very sweet and tart lemonade, take a couple of hits, and get out there and improve your lot in life.

Good luck in your future endeavors.
There was an article recently in Dear Abby regarding having to listen to people using profanity in public and listening to personal phone calls. Plenty of people are still a little old-fashioned about things like that. Once upon a time phone calls were made in the privacy of a home or office. I miss those good old days sometime. Best of luck to you in the future.