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Mind your language!

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The latest trend in monitoring employee behaviour in the States could catch on in the UK. Following hot on the heels of actively dissuading workplace romances, comes news that the latest workplace rule in the USA is “No Swearing”.

There is an increasing trend for companies to introduce codes of ethics for employees to adhere to, and recent indications are that such codes are including rules on the use of swearing and inappropriate language.

The move has maybe achieved a higher press profile after chat show host Oprah Winfrey pledged to stop swearing.

It is believed that companies drawing up the rules of language-use are doing so because of an increasing risk that swearing is being seen as sexually orientated, putting businesses at risk from expensive lawsuits for sexual harassment. Some lawyers have reportedly expressed the belief that use of inappropriate language and swearing can by themselves be seen as harassment, and need not be seen as purely indicative of harassment activities.

People with Touret’s syndrome, an illness characterised by unexpected outbursts of inappropriate language and behaviour are not believed to be exempted from such rules, and sooner or later, a court case to settle whether a “swearing” rule discriminates against people with Touret’s syndrome is expected.

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