You might think your handlebar mustache is the epitome of cool, but your boss at the frozen yogurt shop disagrees. Can you get fired for personal flair? And if so, what other kinds of seemingly innocent behavior can get you sacked?
You probably know that it's illegal for your boss to fire you over your race, religion, sex, or political affiliation, but what about your hairstyle? Could you get fired for getting a super-short haircut?
A waitress in Ontario, Canada was fired after she shaved her head to raise money for cancer research. Apparently, it didn't matter that her father had died of the disease. She was canned because her appearance was disturbing to customers.
Clothing choice is another subject of workplace contention. You probably know that you can be fired for wearing revealing or otherwise inappropriate clothes to the office, but what about clothes that support an unpopular sports team? Can you be fired for rooting for the enemy?
Bosses have incredible freedom to fire for almost any cause. A Chicago car salesman was fired after refusing to remove a Green Bay Packers tie that was infuriating his Bears-loving coworkers. We should mention the Packers beat the Bears the night before to advance to the Super Bowl.
If you wear a telephone headset as part of your job, and your phone calls are recorded for quality control, can your boss fire you for something you say to a co-worker between calls?
In the United States, employers have the right to record and monitor employee phone calls that have a business function. Conversations with co-workers qualify as business discussions. If you're going to badmouth your boss, remember to hit the "mute" button.
Is your boss allowed to monitor your computer use to figure out how much time your computer sits idle and how much time you are actively using it?
Even worse, if you have a data entry job where constant typing is required, your boss can install software that monitors and records keystrokes per minute. If you don't keep up your pace, you can get fired.
You probably know that any e-mails you send or receive from your work account can be monitored by your boss. But can you get fired for an e-mail you send from work using a personal Web-based account like Gmail or Yahoo!?
Web-based e-mail accounts communicate across your office network, which means that your boss can monitor the contents of your personal e-mail as easily as he can monitor the pages on your Web browser. And it's perfectly legal. If you trash talk your company or share confidential information over a "personal" e-mail account at work, you can certainly be fired.
In Brazil, it's very hard to fire someone and expensive to fire someone. Which of the following DOES NOT qualify as a legal reason for firing a Brazilian employee "with cause"?
missing 25 days of work without any explanation
The only way to get fired "with cause" in Brazil is to engage in illegal, unethical or wildly unprofessional behavior. If a Brazilian company wants to fire an employee "without cause," it will have to pay for any unused vacation days -- Brazilians get 30 days for every 12 months of work -- plus the annual holiday bonus (another month's salary), plus give the employee at least 30 days written notice.
posting pictures of your skimpy Carnival outfit on Facebook
In the United States, federal sexual harassment law was established by Article VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In what year did both France and India pass their first comprehensive sexual harassment laws?
Both countries had laws on the books to punish sexual offenses like physical abuse and rape, but the pair of 2012 laws made it illegal to make sexually colored remarks and jokes or display sexually charged material at work. Not only can workers in France and India get fired for such behavior, but they could face fines and jail time.
Workplace communication is a sensitive arena, especially when using e-mail. If you're not careful, people could misread a sarcastic joke as mean or subversive. Can you be fired for sending too many e-mails using ALL CAPS?
An accountant in New Zealand was fired after sending too many e-mails using ALL CAPS, bolded and colored text. Her boss claimed they set a "confrontational" tone. Even if you think you're being helpful by calling out important information in ALL CAPS, your co-workers might think you're YELLING.
Walking out on the job is certainly grounds for dismissal, but what if it's a life or death situation? Can you get fired for leaving your post even if you're trying to stop an armed robbery?
Even heroes get fired. A waiter in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. ran out of his restaurant to tackle a knife-wielding carjacker and hold him until the police arrived. When he returned to work, he was fired for walking out on the job.
Hard work is always rewarded, right? Can you get fired for being quiet, keeping your head down and just doing your work?
Sadly, human resource experts say it's the quiet ones who are often the first to go during layoffs. Even if you do everything you're told, companies are looking for people who have new ideas and are motivated to move up the ladder. Also, if no one knows you very well, you're easier to can.
Thank heavens for the delete key, right? Can your boss fire you for something you said in a work e-mail that you deleted from your inbox?
Just because an e-mail is deleted from your inbox doesn't mean that it's deleted from the office servers. Most companies back up and save all network data, even deleted e-mails. If your boss wants to find that e-mail badly enough, she will.
Online social media networks like Facebook and Twitter are great for sharing opinions, pictures and videos with your friends, but can you get fired for personal content that you share on your Facebook or Twitter page?
This is one of the biggest mistakes made by employees, young and old. If you share pictures, videos or opinions that make you look crazy/lazy/drunk/stupid, that reflects badly on your employer. Facebook can definitely get you fired, except in special circumstances.
The U.K. has strong worker employee protection laws. Under British "whistleblower" laws, an employee cannot be fired for public disclosure of company secrets. Which of the following kind of company disclosure DOES NOT qualify for employee protection?
leaking that the company charges an unfairly high price for a product or service
Whistleblower laws in the U.K. can only be applied in cases where the employer is breaking the law, endangering the health and safety of employees or the public, or polluting the environment. High prices are bad for business, but not unlawful.
admitting a criminal offense by the company
proving that the company inflicts damage on the environment
Facebook status updates often read like a chronicle of the mundane. "Watching the Steelers game." "Can't believe I lost my keys again." and the infamous, "Bored. Bored. Bored." Can you be fired for admitting on Facebook that you're bored at work?
Everyone gets bored at work, but publishing that fact to the world reflects poorly on your motivation, not to mention, "What are you doing on Facebook anyway?" A teen in England lost her job over this very behavior. Then again, why was her boss on Facebook, too?
What if your boss is a truly horrible person -- a lazy, lying, obnoxious womanizer who spends his entire day tracking his fantasy football team. Can you get fired for going over his head to complain to upper management?
The chain of command is a serious thing in most workplaces. Any time you go over your boss's head, you risk getting fired. If you choose to do it, make sure you have undeniable proof of your boss's incompetence, something that will get him fired before he can get to you.
Politics and religion are touchy subjects at the office. Can you get fired for openly sharing your religious beliefs with co-workers and customers, even handing out religious tracts and pamphlets?
Under U.S. workplace law covering both public and private employees, the courts have generally held that you are allowed to share your religious beliefs as long as they don't offend your co-workers, create safety issues, impact the profitability of the company, or misrepresent them as the views of your employer.