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HR Question of the Month: Anger Management Course

Source: Federated insurance, April 16, 2024


We have a manager who is very good at her job, but she has issues controlling her anger. Multiple employees have complained that she exploded at them over minor issues. Can we require this manager to take an anger management course?


Requiring (or even requesting) that an employee participate in any type of therapy, anger management, professional mental health treatment or the like is typically not a best practice. Doing so may lead an employee to allege that the employer "regards" them as having a disability (for example, a mental or behavioral impairment) that requires medical attention. An employer can unwittingly confer the protection of the Americans with Disabilities Act upon an employee even though they may not be disabled. This protection can set an employer up for a potential disability discrimination claim if adverse employment action is later taken.

A better approach is to manage whatever issue is occurring at work from a performance management or policy violation perspective. It is certainly possible for someone who is not suffering from any medical or mental health issues to have poor communication skills, behave angrily or inappropriately when frustrated, or otherwise conduct themselves in a manner unbecoming of an employee. Therefore, an employer should not assume an employee needs therapy or treatment merely because, for example, they have yelled or exhibited other inappropriate workplace behavior. Instead, an employer should treat an employee from the standpoint of performance management and policy violation in a manner consistent with employer policy and practice. To this end, if an employee has behaved inappropriately or angrily, the employer should issue whatever disciplinary action is warranted by the conduct and in accordance with company policy and practice.

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