Career Advice

Is Yelling In The Workplace Harassment? The Hard Truth HR Never Tells You

Employees experience many odd events on their journeys, and yelling is one of those occurrences. You probably want to know if yelling in the workplace is acceptable if you’ve seen or experienced it while working. The following is an in-depth look at a vital question: Is yelling in the workplace harassment?

Is yelling in the workplace harassment?

The dictionary definition of harassment describes it as aggressive pressure or intimidation. Therefore, a sense of intimidation must be present for yelling to fall into that category.

Some situations exist in which yelling is not a form of harassment. One example is yelling in a warehouse environment with loud machines in the background. Typically, that situation is not harassment, because the employees and managers need to raise their voices to be heard.

Yelling by a coach, construction worker, auctioneer, or referee may not count as harassment either for the same reason.

Yelling in the workplace is harassment if it intends to humiliate or intimidate another person. Therefore, the yelling in the above-mentioned environments could still fall under harassment if the person doing it has malicious intent.

Usually, harassment-based yelling occurs in environments where lifting one’s voice is not commonplace. It happens in an otherwise calm environment and rocks the recipient or target to the core.

Is yelling bullying?

Bullying is the practice of seeking to intimidate, coerce, or harm another person, and a perpetrator uses a variety of tools to carry it out. Yelling is one of the tools of bullying, and many managers and employees use it for the above-mentioned purposes.

What are some bad examples of yelling in the workplace?

is yelling in the workplace harassment

These are a few yelling instances you may have seen at your job at some point:

Correcting An Error Out Loud

A bully boss or coworker might yell at an employee out loud to humiliate that person. There’s nothing wrong with correcting errors, but it doesn’t require a raised voice or public display. This type of yelling has ill intentions and is not an acceptable way to communicate.

Shouting at Staff in the Workplace

You’ve probably seen a movie or TV show where the boss yelled at the collective group of workers to take out frustrations. Some bosses do that to take some of the heat off themselves and put it on the targets. That way, the boss won’t look bad in his or her boss’s eyes.

Yelling Obscenities to Workers

Some people take yelling to a whole new vulgar level. In other words, they yell obscenities at workers and fellow teammates.

My boss yelled at me and I cried. What should I do?

If your boss’s tirade made you cry, you have genuinely experienced trauma on your job. You should first talk to your boss if you intend to stay there. Let that person know how disrespectful it was to talk to you that way. There is a slim chance that your boss will understand the error of his or her ways and apologize.

However, you have the right to take this issue to the human resources department if your boss doesn’t acknowledge the problem. You can explain to them that you suffered a great deal of trauma because your boss yelled at you and made you cry. They may offer a solution, such as separating you from your boss.

However, their solution to the problem might not be satisfactory. It won’t hurt to consult with an attorney if you want to know if there’s anything legal you can do. You might have a case if your boss’s yelling had anything to do with federally protected status.

For example, you most likely have a case if your boss said something derogatory about your race, gender, or religion in the middle of yelling at you. Attorneys often provide harassment and bullying victims with contingency representation when their cases are strong enough.

My manager keeps snapping at me. Can I snap back?

is yelling in the workplace harassment

It’s not in your best interest to snap back at your boss, even if he or she snaps at you first. You could experience several negative repercussions, such as a write-up, suspension, or job loss. The chance is high that you will end up looking like an unstable person, even though your boss was the one who couldn’t control his or her temper.

In a situation like that, it’s best to document everything and walk away if you can. Walking away is not a cowardly move, but a smart one. You refuse to engage with such negativity and are, in essence, protesting it by removing yourself from it.

Try to find anyone who witnessed the incident and ask them if they will attest to it if you need to report your boss’s behavior. It’s always best to have at least one witness to corroborate and confirm your story. Victims don’t always have the witness they need, though, and that scenario is especially true in toxic workplaces.

Can I sue my boss for yelling at me?

This question has a yes and no answer because it depends on several circumstances. These are the factors that will play a role in whether you can sue your boss or not:


You might be entitled to go after the company if the yelling had anything to do with discrimination or any ongoing emotional or mental abuse. In that case, you can speak to an outside organization like the EEOC or contact an attorney and schedule a consultation. After the initial meeting, you’ll find out how viable your case is.

is yelling in the workplace harassment


Some types of yelling can be classified as criminal activity in certain states. For example, your boss could be arrested immediately if his or her words mentioned a threat of violence or life-ending. That’s not likely to happen in an upstanding work environment, but it’s something to consider.


If you want to sue or launch a case against someone for yelling, you will need to have a strong case. That means you should have at least one witness who can put in some words about what happened. Video or audio recordings can help, too, if they’re permissible in court.

A Provable Loss

You might be able to take your employer to court for personal injury if your boss’s yelling and humiliation caused you to lose a significant amount of money. For example, he may owe you money if you have to leave your workplace because of the abuse.

If you win the case, it will be because of the accumulated work wage loss you suffered. Your request for reimbursement and compensation may also include any bill you paid to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions.

Can a manager yell at you in front of other employees?

Managers are supposed to use the most effective and respectful practices to facilitate a certain work standard. That said, not all managers have excellent communication skills, and many of them prefer using scare tactics and degradation to force change instead of working toward finding long-lasting solutions.

It’s never acceptable for a person to yell at another person under any circumstances. However, a bad manager might get away with it if his or her supervisors aren’t aware of what goes on when they aren’t watching. Some of them may even approve of these aggressive tactics to keep workers in line.

Here’s how to handle an employee who yells at other employees.

is yelling in the workplace harassment

An employee who yells at other employees sets a bad example for the company. Therefore, management must take steps to eliminate the problem. The most effective way to do that is to incorporate a progressive disciplinary process along with proper training and coaching.

New employees should be given a second chance if they exhibit poor behavior. However, the leadership may need to terminate the employee if the antics cause the environment to become hostile for other workers.

Here’s how to handle being yelled at at work.

Being exposed to the harshness of yelling at work can devastate you as an employee. These are some things you can try if it happens to you:

1. Remain calm.

The most crucial tip for handling someone yelling at you is to remain calm. You must avoid matching the energy sent to you. Remember that this person has an issue and chooses to conduct himself or herself inappropriately. You don’t have to follow suit.

2. Try to be empathetic.

You do not necessarily have to accept poor behavior. However, you could be empathetic about your boss’s actions. Think about some of the pressures you might have as a leader and what your boss might be going through at the moment.

Maybe your boss’s higher-ups are leaning on him or her heavily. Perhaps they are pressuring your boss to achieve certain numbers. Consider that the yelling isn’t personal. Maybe your boss doesn’t know how to handle anxiety very well.

3. Listen to the complaint.

Try to ignore the yelling and zero in on the message. What is the complaint? Is there any truth to it? Can you improve your performance or do anything to rectify the situation?

It could be that your boss doesn’t have very good leadership skills and only knows how to “ask” for improvement with threats. However, he or she may have a very valid complaint. Listen to see if you can find what it is and then take steps to improve it.

4. Discuss the matter later.

Wait until things calm down and request a one-on-one discussion with your boss. Call him or her out for the disrespect and request the relief you want for it, whether it’s an apology or an agreement never to speak to you that way again.

5. Speak to higher-ups or HR.

The next step if the yelling continues is to speak to someone with more authority than your boss. You can go to the district or regional mana

ger or take the situation straight to human resources. They should offer you a viable solution to the problem.

If not, you may have to take the ordeal to the next level. Outside organizations and attorneys can assist you if you need them to.

6. Polish your resume; quit your job.

It may be time to polish up your resume if you need help resolving the yelling situation. After all, you have a right to work under respectful circumstances. Thus, you might want to clean up your resume and move on if you don’t feel you’re receiving it.

Use the information above to make good choices if you experience yelling at work. Don’t be afraid to explore alternative work if you can find peace at your current job.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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