worker with caption 'just got written up for emotional instability? is this even legal...?' (l) paper with red circle around writing 'emotional breakdowns/instability' with caption 'just got written up for emotional instability? is this even legal...?' (c) with caption 'just got written up for emotional instability? is this even legal...?' (r)

@gingerbren/TikTok Remix by Caterina Cox

‘Is this even legal…?’: Worker gets written up for ’emotional instability’

'I got fired from Waffle House because I was 'too emotional.''


Braden Bjella


Posted on Jul 24, 2023

A user on TikTok has sparked discussion after claiming they were written up at work for “emotional instability.”

In a video with over 468,000 views, TikTok user @gingerbren shows the write-up in question, which is specified as her “final” write-up even though she claims in comments that it was the “first physical write-up” she had ever received.

“just got written up for emotional instability? is this even legal…?” she asks in the text overlaying the video. The write-up indicates that the TikToker had “emotion breakdowns/instability.”

@gingerbren no dead serious.. is it? 😂 #fyp #foryou #work #workproblems #writeup #emotional #emotionalbreakdown #emotionalinstability #unstable #bpd #borderline #borderlinepersonalitydisorder #anxiety #depression #mentalhealth #greenscreen ♬ and i.. wait a second – Liam Miller

In a TikTok direct message conversation with the Daily Dot, the TikToker says the write-up came about after a disagreement with a co-worker.

“Manager basically wanted to implement a policy i found confusing, i spoke an opposing opinion only to reach clarification. problem was it was in front of staff, she labeled it as a breakdown/instability and creating negativity,” she explained. “I basically offered another solution to better understand where she was coming from. it felt like she wanted no questioning, no thoughts just do.”

The claim that her behavior affected employee productivity, she says, is doubtful.

“i’m one of the lead [vet] techs here and i give it my all, all the time!” the TikToker shared in a comment. “she feels it affects HER productivity i suppose.” In a later comment, she added, “she makes it seem like i threw a tantrum and i would NEVER at work.”

Commenters seemed unsure about whether receiving a write-up for this behavior was truly legal.

The general consensus of the comments section appeared to be that if the TikToker was truly being disruptive, or perceived to have been disruptive, the employer is within their rights to reprimand the employee for their behavior.

“If you are genuinely being disruptive this is very legal. The question is are you being disruptive,” noted a user.

A 2020 article in Chron notes that “behavior issues are among the most common reasons for firing someone.”

As most states have at-will employment, the Chron article says that “Generally, employers are within their right to fire an employee who has a toxic attitude that is in violation of company policy, but it is good practice to take steps to fix the problem first.”

However, the TikToker noted that they have several documented disabilities. If the write-up came as a reaction to a behavior resulting from one of those disabilities, the employer could face issues.

“you should absolutely contact an employment lawyer and the ADA and get their thoughts,” offered a further TikToker. “sometimes the employer can skirt the law…”

As a 2022 article from the National Organization on Disability explains, “You are not legally required to mention your disability while you’re being considered for a job. You do not need to disclose your disability on your resume, cover letter, or other application materials, or during an interview.”

Furthermore, “An employer is required to provide reasonable accommodations unless they can show that it is an ‘undue hardship,’ meaning there would be a ‘significant’ difficulty or cost. However, they can’t refuse to provide a requested accommodation if there is some cost involved, and they must provide an alternative accommodation.”

The TikToker noted to the Daily Dot that the job is aware of her disability and had previously made some accommodations, though they were not used with frequency.

“we have one in place to help me realize i need to check in with myself, revisit situation/conversation at a later time. unfortunately it does not get implemented,” she detailed. “i think once they’ve used it in the last year.”

“i wish she had just let me know we should discuss at a later time rather than let me speak out of line and then write me up for an emotional breakdown,” the TikToker continued. “this was something we’ve discussed, she said she would do it if needed. she clearly felt it was needed because she wrote me up but made no effort to deescalate at the time.”

As for what viewers should take away from her experience, the TikToker’s message is simple.

“invisible disabilities exist and need to be considered in the work place,” she stated.

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*First Published: Jul 24, 2023, 7:48 am CDT