Career & Education

Can I be fired for bad attitude?

Carolyn Marie Smith

Sunday, December 03, 2017

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Dear Career Advisor:

I find myself in constant conflict with my boss who has recently threatened to fire me. Can I be fired for what my boss calls my bad attitude?



Dear CJ:

There is no doubt that a bad attitude will have a negative effect on workplace productivity. Whereas it might be difficult for your employer to justify terminating you solely on a charge of “bad attitude”, it is not impossible for it to be done. And although firing you for “bad attitude” may not be able to sustain a legal challenge, often the time and cost to mount one will not be worth it.

In the termination procedures, your boss might choose not to use the term “bad attitude”, but he/she can certainly justify his/her decision by pointing to specific behaviours that you are exhibiting. Among the common negative workplace mannerisms, conduct, or responses often loosely classified as poor attitude are:

• Lack of interest

• Unwillingness to work on teams

• Lack of cooperation

• Harassment (including sexual)

• Vulgarity

• Lack of punctuality

• Rudeness or lack of courtesy

• Customer complaints

• Slowing the pace of work

• Low productivity

• Offensive speech (racial, sexist, discriminatory, obscene)

Additionally, your manager may rely on the provisions of the organisation's rules, regulations, and disciplinary procedures, especially for conduct that specifically relates to the treatment of customers or fellow employees.

If you value your job, why not simply change your attitude and save you and your boss further stress? Honestly evaluate yourself to see which actions, including non-verbal, are triggering the perception that your attitude is bad. Next week, in part two to this response, we will help you explore how your non-verbal cues might be leading to the perception of a “bad attitude”.


Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice-president of student services at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Manchester. Submit your questions to her at




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