This could easily be my shortest article.
I could say "Don't do it!" And be done with it, but let's be honest, the world is more complicated than that. People do curse it the workplace, and that can make all the difference in your professional atmosphere.
Naturally, if you're a school teacher, or preacher, cursing just isn't part of your vernacular, so this article may be irrelevant to you. But what about the rest of us? Those working in more casual atmospheres, like Technology, or Sports; The Arts? Or how about dangerous jobswhere its easy to accept an F-Bomb flying out of a shocked electrician? S#!+ happens.
For the sake of this article, let's call the person who curses The Perp. Also, its fun to say 'Perp'. There have been Perps in every job I ever had in the media. They curse equipment (Oh, the equipment!) In Master Control they curse talent that has gone rogue, and off-script. Sometimes these folks get caught on tape cursing. Perps can also curse to defend a story they believe in. In radio, the cool kids used F-bombs to punctuate a sentence all the time. That is, until they cracked the mic. Then it was all Happy, Sunny, Smiley Day. Don't even get me started about Wall Street cursing.
What about when the employee isn't the Perp at all... the customer is?
According to a poll conducted by The Marchex Institute, the Number One industry to hear swear words in is Satellite Television (the full list is below). They note that 1 in every 82 phone calls by customers results in at least one of the Seven Deadly Swear Words that we in the media cannot, and will not broadcast.
And when cursing becomes hostile? Take this video of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick (said to be one of the nicer Uber execs!) His rant went viral. That's embarrassing. And if Susan J Fowlers experience at Uber is to be considered, this sort of behavior is rampant there.
An HR issue?
It can be. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines Harassment as "unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information." Not swearing, although these Perps usually find a way. However, the US Labor Law says a hostile work environment "exists when one's behavior within a workplace creates an environment that is difficult or uncomfortable for another person to work in." And that most definitely can include your potty mouth.
So can you curse at work? Legally, you probably can (unless it causes harm to your employer's brand, or a coworker, in which case you better start looking for a new job). But should you curse at work? Absolutely not. Its unprofessional and vulgar, so simply put... wait for it... Don't do it.