Can you be dismissed for crying at work?
Being dismissed for crying at work may seem like an absolutely absurd thing to happen to someone. But believe it or not, there have been plenty of employees around the globe who have been dismissed for shedding a few tears while on the job. In this article, we share the stories of employees who have cried at work. Further explore and explain if doing so is a valid reason for dismissal. We also reveal the surprising number of Australian workers who have shed tears in the workplace. And we share the story of an amazingly tone-deaf boss who put on the waterworks for all the wrong reasons.
Waitress who cried because abuser entered restaurant gets dismissed
On social media, countless stories abound of employees who have been dismissed for crying at work. One such particularly alarming story posted on Reddit details a brutal case of a employer displaying apathy toward the emotions of her employee. The Canadian restaurant waitress, 20, describes how she had “worked my ass off” for the six-months. She was in the job and had never taken sick leave. But one day, her “sexual assaulter” came into the restaurant, forcing her to rush to the bathroom where she proceeded to cry for a few minutes. The waitress, however, quickly returned to work.
Her boss naturally noticed her teary eyes, but instead of comforting the waitress, decided to lay down the law. “My boss noticed that I looked upset and pulled me aside and told me “If you’re just going to be f**king crying then leave,” writes the waitress. The waitress later realized that she had been dismissed from her job after noticing she had been taken off the roster. A day later, she attempted to explain why she was crying to her boss. But the insensitive boss wouldn’t have a word of it, explaining that she couldn’t risk the waitress crying again.
“It’s crazy I’ve worked my ass off there. I was never late I’ve never cried on the job before. I covered my bosses’ asses so much and I just have one bad day and all of a sudden I’m a liability to the restaurant,”the waitress writes.
A surprising number of Australians are crying at work
If you have cried at work, you’re not alone. A 2022 Facebook poll of more than 1,400 Australian workers revealed that 90 per cent of them have cried at work. And they did so for a variety of reasons. “I’m a train driver: I’ve cried for a number of reasons,” shared one Facebook commenter.
“Traumatic experiences, intense frustrations, personal issues, being belittled by workmates, stress of assessments when I was a trainee. We even have a section of the toilets we lovingly refer to as ‘the crying room’.”train driver
“I think crying at work should be normalized,” another commenter wrote. “Workplaces can be stressful places and crying is a completely normal human response to stress.” While another said: “I’m a nurse. I cry out of sadness, I cry out of grief, I cry in celebration/joy with others. I cry out of frustration. I cry out of anger, I cry because I’m exhausted, haven’t had a break and haven’t had water in 6+ hours.”
Is crying at work a valid reason for dismissal?
In Australia, crying at work is unlikely to be a fair and legal reason to dismiss someone. This is particularly the case if an employee is crying due to a medical condition that they have disclosed to their employer. For instance, if they are having a panic attack due to an anxiety disorder. A dismissal in this case could be considered discrimination based on the employee’s medical condition, which is a protected characteristic under the general protections provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009. The employee could make a general protections discrimination claim against their employer through the Fair Work Commission.
However, if an employee is consistently crying at work, and it directly affects their work performance or that of their colleagues, it’s possible that it could be a valid reason for dismissal. For instance, if they are working in a customer-facing role and their crying regularly affects their ability to interact with customers. In a case like this, an employer would however need to offer adequate support to the employee prior to dismissing them. Of course, there are always unique circumstances surrounding an employee’s dismissal. And if they feel their dismissal wasn’t fair, they can make an unfair dismissal claim with the Fair Work Commission.
Even casual employees can make an unfair dismissal claim if they meet certain criteria. As we explain in our article here. It’s important to remember that an employee. Whether full-time, part-time or casual, must make an unfair dismissal claim within 21 days of their dismissal.
If you cry at work, you should receive support
It’s important to remember that if you do cry at work, your boss should be supportive of you rather than look to discipline or dismiss you right away. After all, it could be that you are crying because your workload is too high. Or maybe you have been experiencing workplace bullying.
All bosses should take complaints of workplace bullying very seriously. If you need assistance on how to deal with workplace bullying, you can read our article here.
CEO posts cringeworthy crying selfie while announcing dismissal of multiple employees
From what we’ve discussed, employees crying while at work clearly isn’t an uncommon phenomenon. And being stood down from your job is certainly a valid reason to start crying at work. But having your boss post a selfie of himself crying while announcing the dismissal of you and several other employees is another thing entirely.
That’s exactly what CEO of US-based marketing firm HyperSocial Braden Wallake did in October 2022, which saw him widely mocked and garner considerable media attention. The cringeworthy selfie, which showed him watery-eyed with fresh tears streaming down his face, was posted to his 31,000 followers on LinkedIn. Wallake received over 10,000 comments, mostly critical, with some labelling him “narcissistic” and “emotionally immature.”
Wallake even posed with his finger on his lips, apparently as if to suppress further uncontrollable sobbing over the dismissal of his redundant employees. Which he admitted was “my fault.” In fact, the CEO later admitted that only two of his employees were made surplus to requirements. With the second being dismissed by his girlfriend, the firm’s Chief Operations Officer.
Dubbed the crying CEO
The “Crying CEO,” as he was dubbed in the media, accompanied the selfie with an equally over-sentimental message dedicated to his dismissed employees.
“Days like today, I wish I was a business owner that was only money driven and didn’t care about who he hurt along the way,” wrote Wallake. “But I’m not. So, I just want people to see, that not every CEO out there is cold-hearted and doesn’t care when he/she have to lay people off.” The CEO wrapped up his overly sentimental post with an ode to his dismissed employees.
“I know it isn’t professional to tell my employees that I love them. But from the bottom of my heart, I hope they know how much I do,” Wallake continued. “Every single one, every single story. Every single thing that makes them smile and every single thing that makes them cry.” “I’ve always hire people based on who they are as people. People with great hearts, and great souls. And I can’t think of a lower moment than this.”
Crying CEO criticized for “making it all about you”
Rather than the sympathy he was hoping for, Wallake’s post garnered scathing criticism and merciless ridicule on LinkedIn. “Why don’t you cut your salary or don’t take one until the company is back where you need it to be?” said one commenter. Another added: “Yikes. I was just laid off – along with many others. If my CEO sent this I’d probably lose my mind.”
Another commenter scolded Wallake for making the dismissal of his employees “all about you.” “Braden, you are not equipped to be a CEO, “wrote the commenter. “You are a narcissistic, emotionally immature quat. Hey, why not deflect your inability to take tough decisions and assuage your guilt by…. making it all about YOU!”
Despite the widespread criticism, Wallake was unapologetic about what will go down as one of the most self-serving and cringeworthy LinkedIn posts of all time. “Going viral was never intended, but seeing this makes every single nasty comment worth it,” Wallake said in another LinkedIn post.
Have you been unfairly dismissed?
At A Whole New Approach, we’re committed to providing the best possible service for workers who have been unfairly dismissed, or harassed from their jobs. As experienced and knowledgeable workplace mediators, we have helped over 16,000 employees navigate the complex process of making an unfair dismissal claim.
Our team of expert mediators provides a tailored approach to each case and is dedicated to finding an effective resolution that benefits all parties involved. The best part? We offer a no win, no fee service, which means that you don’t have to pay anything if we’re unable to help you win your case. And, to make it even easier, we provide a free initial consultation to help you understand your rights and options. When you work with us, you can trust that we will be there to support you every step of the way.
Don’t suffer in silence after being sacked or non genuine redundancy. Call A Whole New Approach today on 1800 333 666 for a confidential conversation.
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