An employee, working for fashion house Alex Perry, was dismissed for threatening and intimidating behaviour including, swearing at female employees.
It is alleged he used coarse and vulgar language, making comments like, “I will fuck you up the arse” and “I will fucking slap her”, which the dismissed employee denied. The dismissed employee suggested that there was culture of office swearing and alleged that even Mr Perry had called another female a “bitch”, which was strongly denied by Mr Perry.
Should swearing at work be tolerated?
The employer’s primary duty is to ensure that the workplace is safe and healthy for its employees. There is a balance between a safe and healthy workplace (on one hand) and a culture of swearing and banter (on the other hand).
Deputy President Sams comments that “it hardly needs to said that swearing in ordinary conversation might be tolerated in some workplaces.” But, swearing cannot be tolerated if it is used to abuse another employee (Salloum v Jayco Unit Trust  FWC 3746).
A female employee, working at Alex Perry, gave evidence that “she would feel very uncomfortable, extremely stressed and unsafe” and feared the applicant retaliating if he was reinstated. In these circumstances, it appears as if the swearing was used for the purpose of abusing another employee and meant the workplace was no longer safe and healthy.
The dismissed employee’s evidence was not believed and it was commented by Deputy President Sams, that “it is difficult to understand why the applicant relied on a claim that swearing (and banter) was common in the workplace, if his primary position was he had never sworn at any time”.
The dismissal was upheld.
Mr Sirajul Bashir v Alex Perry Pty Limited t/a Alex Perry  FWC 2041 (28 March 2019)