Licenziamento per giusta causa

Is dismissal for blasphemy at work legitimate?

Covisan is once again in the eye of the storm for a disciplinary dismissal that the unions are preparing to contest with a 16-hour strike.
This time, the story concerns a worker who was caught swearing at work.
According to what was reported by the unions, it was a whispered exclamation due to frustration over malfunctions in the company system.
In the meantime, the matter is under the attention of the client Hera, which has requested a discussion with the operational managers.
The trade union organizations firmly support the illegitimacy of the dismissal in question and above all consider the reference to the Criminal Code made by the company in the reasons for the provision to be unjustified.
A response has not yet been provided by the company and the precise facts are not known, but the dilemma behind this news is common to everyone: can an employee be fired for swearing at work? Here are the various possibilities according to the law.
Is dismissal for blasphemy at work legitimate? A dismissal motivated by the fact that the employee has said a blasphemy in the workplace undoubtedly constitutes a disciplinary dismissal, i.e.
aimed at terminating the employment relationship due to the employee's serious behavior.
Dismissal is undeniably the most serious disciplinary sanction and is within the employer's possibilities, but only when the worker's fault is such that it does not allow the continuation of the job (or does not continue it without prejudice to the company).
Inappropriate language, which includes name calling, swearing and swearing, has often been the subject of dismissal lawsuits.
This is because there are more employers than we think who have gone so far as to fire an employee for the bad language used (and often found wrong by the courts).
Disciplinary dismissal must always be attributed to a serious fault on the part of the worker, such as to irreversibly hinder the continuation of the employment relationship.
It is extremely difficult for blasphemy to lead to this result, no matter how socially unacceptable it may be.
This does not mean that any dismissal involving swearing or profanity can be classified as unlawful, but it is possible to do so with sufficient certainty when: it is not repeated behaviour; the employee had not already been sanctioned; the language did not significantly compromise the company's interests (image towards customers, serenity of the working environment for colleagues…).
read also Which workers cannot be fired, all the bans in force today When swearing causes dismissal In all likelihood, it would make sense to talk about dismissal in the event of swearing repeated on several occasions, when addressing the employer, colleagues and even to customers.
In this case, if the employee does not improve his behavior after the disciplinary sanctions, dismissal is the only way forward for the company.
Outside of similar cases, in which the behavior is repeated and such as to compromise the work activity, it is almost impossible to presume the legitimacy of a dismissal due to blasphemy.
Even more so when the employee does not contact other people or in any case does not disturb the image of the company before customers and does not compromise the serenity of the working environment.
In reality, blasphemy is not a priori a legitimate reason for dismissal even if uttered during a heated discussion with the boss.
Ordinance no.
4831 of 16 February 2023 of the Court of Cassation has in fact considered that the use of vulgar language towards superiors cannot be punished with dismissal, but only with conservative sanctions.
The rationale is that the disciplinary sanction is proportionate to the worker's conduct and in line with common sense.
A very useful criterion for judging the worker's conduct is that of the environmental loss, referred to in ordinance no.
25969 of 6 September 2023 of the Supreme Court.
In addition to judging the fact objectively, it is necessary to understand how that conduct can influence the work environment as a whole.
A single blasphemy, especially if the worker who utters it does not have a responsible role, is certainly not capable of compromising the working environment.
read also Leaving your job, do you risk being fired? What risks those who swear at work Blaspheming is not a crime, since this offense was decriminalized in 1999.
It is however an administrative offense punishable with a fine of between 51 and 309 euros, which can only be imposed by the competent authority.
The reference to the Criminal Code (which still contains the article, since it is a crime which was later decriminalised) can therefore have an inhibitory function, but it is underlined that there is no criminal liability.
Faced with a worker who swears, the employer can therefore initiate a civil lawsuit and/or apply a conservative disciplinary sanction (in compliance with national collective bargaining), but cannot discipline the employee for this sole reason.
read also Disciplinary sanctions for subordinate work, what risks does an employee who does not respect the contract risk?

Author: A.W.M.

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