Aggression On The Job Can Result in Being Fired For Cause Indicates Chicago Employment Lawyer

Law Firm Newswire




Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) May 3, 2013 – If an explosive employee causes distress in the workplace that may be cause for being fired.

“This particular case is interesting for the take away,” pointed out Timothy Coffey, a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace. “Initially, the worker alleged he was discriminated against, on further examination of the circumstances, it turned out the worker was aggressive and disruptive.”

Hill v. Johnson, No. 11-C-2144, ND IL, 2012, revolves around a black gentleman, hired to work as an intern in a federal career program. He is a tall man and considered to be a big individual. The man’s internship was to last two years, with the first year to be considered probationary. It was not long before the man got into an argument with another colleague; a person who was acting as his mentor. The plaintiff had gone to ask his mentor why he had not been chosen to go to a training session. His behavior when speaking to the supervisor was categorized as being aggressive and loud. He was asked to leave the mentor’s office.

“Given that such incidents happen at times, perhaps due to personality conflicts, the plaintiff was moved along to his next rotation. Once again, he ended up in a heated argument with a female co-worker. He insisted on color copies of a document. She said the cost was not justified. He exploded and started yelling at her. Apparently, he thought she was going to write him up on report,” Coffey explained.

Still later, another workplace confrontation took place with another female worker. The man alleged she had spoken disrespectfully to him and he crowded into her personal space, as closely as he could get to her face, and yelled at her in front of the rest of the office. When his tirade ended, he slammed into his office and continued to make loud noises behind the closed door. The plaintiff was fired after the third incident and he alleged racial discrimination.

At trial, the court threw the case out, because the man had not met his employer’s eminently reasonable expectations that he would get along with co-workers. It was clear the workplace explosions were a result of his short temper and hair trigger reactions to perceived or real insults, not racial discrimination. Even though his employer indicated to him he frightened and intimidated others because he was a big guy, the court stated this was not a racial slur, as the supervisor never used the work “black” or made any reference to his racial origins on his termination.

“That take away here is that if you claim discrimination, you need to prove you were meeting an employer’s legitimate expectations to get along with others you work with, not acting angrily, aggressively and in an intimidating manner, disrupting the workplace. Such explosive incidents are more than reason enough to fire a worker,” said Coffey.

Timothy Coffey is a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace. To learn more or to contact a Chicago employment attorney, visit

351 W. Hubbard Street, Suite 602
Chicago, IL 60654
Call: 312.627.9700

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