Can I get written up for telling an employee what someone said about her in the break room?

Rita Risser Chai replies:

It depends on what they said. If someone said something about her that was harassing or discriminatory based on her sex, age, race, or other protected classification, and you report it to HR, then you are protected. Telling the woman about it might—or might not—be considered protected activity also. If the comment didn’t fall into that or other legally protected categories, it may not be protected. Almost all companies are “at will” meaning they can reprimand or fire for any reason, or no reason, as long as it is not an illegal reason. If you lose money as a result of the write-up, it may be a good idea to talk to a lawyer. Good luck.

Posted 07-17-2018

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Rita M. Risser Chai is the founder of Fair Measures. An attorney in California for 20 years and now an attorney in Hawaii, she authored the Prentice Hall book, Stay Out of Court! The Manager’s Guide to Preventing Employee Lawsuits. She developed most of the curriculum used by Fair Measures, created the firm’s first website praised in HR Magazine, and wrote numerous articles on employment law including one on best practice harassment prevention training published in the magazine of the American Society for Training and Development (now ATD). She taught Law and Human Resources at the University of California, Santa Cruz, for eight years, and has presented four times at the annual conventions of the Hawaii Society of Human Resource Management.