From the "Wash Your Mouth Out With Soap" Department

| William A. Schreiner, Jr.

"From the "Wash Your Mouth Out With Soap" Department"

Now here’s some #@%! thought-provoking career advice for executives and the people that hire them: cursing at work (or “cussin” as my southern in-laws say) can cut both ways for your career, as reported here in the Wall Street Journal

It’s one $$@## good article, with interesting anecdotes, but this quote kind of sums it up: “Generally, cursing at work can damn your career. Managers who cuss appear unprofessional and out of control, executive coaches and recruiters say.  But that’s not always the case. Deployed at the right moment and in the right setting, a well-chosen curse word can motivate a team, dissolve tension or win over an audience.”

Rather general advice, but likely food for thought.  The article quotes former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz as saying if there was one thing she could change about her time at Yahoo, it’s that she wouldn’t have cursed as often.  Maybe that’s the moral of this story.  Those who choose a healthy dose of strong invective should remember that – just like with ill-chosen words in email – your words can come back to haunt you.  Swearing by itself usually doesn’t give rise to a claim of a hostile work environment: see, for instance, Noviello v. City of Boston (398 F.3d 76, 92 -- 1st Cir. 2005), where the court pointed out the distinction between swearing as “the ordinary, if occasionally unpleasant, vicissitudes of the workplace and [the] actual harassment” that underlies a hostile work environment claim.  Certainly, though, a long record of cursing like a sailor provides more fuel to the fire of a hostile work environment or other claim against a supervisor or employer.