swearing in the workplace employment law

Speaker: Founder of Employment Law Solutions, Inc. Get the latest employment law updates from Employment Law Handbook ... One recent case that highlights the issue of swearing in the workplace is Symes v Linfox Armaguard Pty Ltd [2012] FWA 4789. Some employees complain of rudeness from superiors, or their managers or directors swearing at them, reprimanding them in an abusive manner in the presence of other employees, and in some cases even physical abuse such as slapping or pushing. Pure Employment Law | 1 Little London, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1PH The latest guidance on the extended furlough scheme, Fines for employers who knowingly allow a self-isolating worker to attend the workplace, Furlough scheme extended – what we know so far, Three things the Johnny Depp case teaches us about Employment Tribunal litigation. Employment Law. With this said, swearing coupled with the additional ingredients of intimidating, aggressive or threatening conduct or actions towards another employee may be a risk to the health and safety of that employee, or indeed constitute a breach of either workplace harassment policies or a code of conduct. It is highly inappropriate in a workplace setting. Offensive language doesn’t necessarily relieve stress. Through taking an appropriate stance on swearing in the workplace, employers can prevent unwanted workplace behaviour and also protect their business from possible Employment Tribunal claims. Expertise. We may request cookies to be set on your device. You are free to opt out any time or opt in for other cookies to get a better experience. Swearing, according to recent research from the University of East Anglia-based Norwich Business School, is regularly used to reinforce solidarity among staff, enabling them to develop social relationships and express their feelings […] Say it quietly but, it seems, the “S” word is alive and well in the workplace and having a positive effect on morale. Founder of Employment Law Solutions, Inc. These cookies are strictly necessary to provide you with services available through our website and to use some of its features. For some organizations, it may be both. He is the Director of the School of HRM at York and Director of Osgoode Hall Law School’s executive LLM Program in Labour and Employment Law and on the Advisory Board of the Osgoode Certificate program in Labour Law. It is difficult to understand why the applicant relied on a claim that swearing (and banter) was common in the workplace, if his primary position was he had never sworn at any time, as it was not in his nature. Swearing in the Workplace! Workplace bullying, harassment and discrimination: can affect staff morale; can lead to stress and impact employee health; can increase staff turnover; can damage relationships; can impact on productivity and profit ; may lead to an employee taking action against the employer, causing a financial impact; can damage the organisation’s reputation as well as the reputation of the person whose behaviour is in … What to some people may be highly offensive may to others be an everyday occurrence, an expression of honesty, letting off steam, or in some cases a show of team camaraderie! And that could technically include swearing in the workplace, if the swearing is directed at another employee.” You've reached your limit - Register for free now for unlimited access, To read the full story, just register for free now - GET STARTED HERE. Workplace Law . Comment and news on UK Employment issues from Richard Ennis. We caught up with Maria Gergin, senior associate at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP and speaker at our Employment Law Masterclass, to  uncover the legal stance on the controversial topic. Another … Such language also has a way of being addictive. “The context, the type of swearing and the audience are all important factors in determining whether swearing in the workplace is inappropriate,” said Alecia Thompson, solicitor at PCC Lawyers. Wrike's 2016 Work Management Survey asked 1,542 workers questions about their experience of language and informality in the workplace. There is a difference between swearing during general discussion and launching into a tirade of swear words against an employee ; Consider the culture you wish to cultivate. You can also change some of your preferences. Employment law requires an assessment of fairness taking into account all of the circumstances. Pure Employment Law Limited is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority with registration number 533794. Some consideration must … The arbitration took place on 23 January 2009 and the arbitrator Check to enable permanent hiding of message bar and refuse all cookies if you do not opt in. A disciplinary policy or code of conduct can detail the employer’s stance on offensive language/swearing in the workplace and warn of the level of sanction that can be applied for failure to comply with the policy. Click to enable/disable essential site cookies. Our Business. However, if you decide (for example) to have a complete ban on swearing, then you must be prepared to enforce it consistently. These policies should set out the ‘dos and don’ts’ in terms of how workers should interact in the office. Civil Law Protections When verbal abuse in the workplace rises to the level of outrageous and atrocious behavior that a reasonable person would … Practice emphasizes advice and counsel in all aspects of employment law and workplace investigations. Discussions about this could form part of training on equality and diversity. Traditionally, swearing has been associated with male-dominated industries such as construction and warehousing as … By continuing to browse the site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies as defined in our cookie policy. We use cookies to let us know when you visit our websites, how you interact with us, to enrich your user experience, and to customize your relationship with our website. And whilst we shouldn’t judge what people get up to in their personal lives, when it comes to conduct in the workplace we all have to abide by distinct rules. In addition to all the reasons she cites, I would add that employees often perceive an unlawful hostile environment when the boss cusses too much, and are more prone to file lawsuits. Click to enable/disable _gid - Google Analytics Cookie. Swearing at boss not sufficient cause for dismissal . We fully respect if you want to refuse cookies but to avoid asking you again and again kindly allow us to store a cookie for that. As an employment lawyer it's relatively common for me to hear of circumstances where employees have been reprimanded for their choice of language within the workplace - although as with all legal matters, every situation is different and must be approached as such. Because these cookies are strictly necessary to deliver the website, refuseing them will have impact how our site functions. “At the very least, if other employees in the workplace are bringing a colleague’s conduct to their attention the employer should remind the employee of his or her obligations under its policies and provide additional training if needed. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. An employee who swears will not always give an employer grounds for termination. All that said, I agree with Evil HR Lady and her more civilized readers that excessive cussing in the workplace is something to be discouraged. When it comes to profanities at work it is a grey area and depends on mitigating factors such as the context of the situation, the nature of the workplace and the relationship between the parties … Although swearing in the workplace was often commonplace in what could be viewed as male dominated environments such as construction it has started to migrate to other areas of the working world.Employee’s do need to be careful though as many a company policy on gross misconduct will include swearing within it and so we’d advise any employee to try and keep colourful … Through taking an appropriate stance on swearing in the workplace, employers can prevent unwanted workplace behaviour and also protect their business from possible Employment Tribunal claims. So, when does cursing in the office actually justify some disciplinary action? (I will return to what the chairperson stated during the disciplinary hearing hereinbelow).3 The award 12] The dispute was referred to the First Respondent (hereinafter referred to as “the council”). Within the average UK office, workers hear swear words being said 11 times a day, and some hear expletives more than 25 times a day, according to recent research. Speaker: Founder of Employment Law Solutions, Inc. Profanity in the Workplace. Page 1 of 2 1 2 Next > ANON48SK2 UKBF Contributor Free Member. Thread Status: Not open for further replies. Please be aware that this might heavily reduce the functionality and appearance of our site. 10 signs you’re about to hire a toxic candidate, 25% of Canadians ‘uncomfortable’ expressing opinions at work, Finalists revealed: 2018 Canadian HR Awards, International investment giant Barings names new CHRO, Vaccine maker AstraZeneca staff ‘targeted’ in cyber attack, allege reports, Quebec to retrain 20,000 workers following pandemic, M&S rewards employees with additional Christmas leave. Employers should ensure all staff are aware of any policy regarding offensive language. Due to security reasons we are not able to show or modify cookies from other domains. Click to enable/disable _ga - Google Analytics Cookie. And the alleged camaraderie offensive language creates comes at a cost. The FWC has again turned its attention to swearing in the workplace in a more recent unfair dismissal decision, Boris v Metcash Trading Limited T/A Metcash [2019] FWC 3993, where an employee argued that his swearing in a formal meeting was “conversational swearing”. Speaker: Founder of Employment Law Solutions, Inc. Ever. Other CFPs. Profanity in the workplace is inappropriate and unprofessional. As discussed later, in some circumstances, cursing or the use of offensive language is considered protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act. Please call us on 01243 836840 for a no obligation chat, or email us at [email protected]. Work Policy The next step is for an employer to create a policy about the use of offensive language. Swear words which are aimed towards other people and are said in anger are most likely to cause offence, especially if derogatory terms are used, which are, or could be viewed as discriminatory. When one person uses it, another may join in. They found that the majority of professionals actually do swear in the workplace (57%). Swearing In The Workplace. In recent months, quite a few cases have highlighted the issue of swearing in the workplace, and not surprisingly, we’ve been getting a number of questions through to the Workplace Helpdesk about it. “At the end of the day, employers should have clear workplace harassment and violence policies in place, and have an ongoing obligation to train employees under these policies. We provide you with a list of stored cookies on your computer in our domain so you can check what we stored. A list of the company’s directors is available for inspection at the registered office. Therefore, organizations discourage the use of abusive language and swearing. Since these providers may collect personal data like your IP address we allow you to block them here. In the case of Roderick Macdougall v SCT Pty Limited t/a Sydney City Toyota, Sydney City Toyota dismissed Mr Macdougall for allegedly behaving aggressively towards and cursing or swearing at a customer. The answer depends on factors such as: If swearing is excessive in the workplace, or if some employees are unhappy with that part of the workplace culture, you can do things like use a swear jar. Featured Articles. However, the words used, who or what they are directed towards, the place they are said in, and the context and tone used, are all important factors. The law gives protection to workers (and others such as job applicants) from... Employer’s responsibilities. If you do not want that we track your visit to our site you can disable tracking in your browser here: We also use different external services like Google Webfonts, Google Maps, and external Video providers. Blue language that may be heard regularly on a shop floor is often … Practice emphasizes advice and counsel in all aspects of employment law and workplace investigations. Memberships & Affiliates. Massachusetts law protects employees against discrimination and hostile work environments by prohibiting an employer, or its agents, from refusing to hire an individual, discharging an employee, or discriminating on the basis of a protected […] Unfortunately, there are no stock answers. The question of whether it is acceptable to swear in the workplace has been recently considered by the Fair Work Commission. If … Managers must understand the procedure for investigating complaints, and also that they are role models and so should not be flouting the policies themselves. According to research carried out by the Aziz Corporation earlier in 2006, 36% of managers accepted swearing as part of the workplace culture. Subscribe to our newsletter. If you need any advice or assistance in dealing with matters of swearing in the workplace, you can pick up the phone to us and speak to a member of our friendly team today. Please complete the form below and click on subscribe for daily newsletters from HRD Canada. Enter your email. Use of profane language can damage one’s professional reputation and drive away co-workers, business partners or customers. Swearing in the workplace is rife, finds new survey 22 Nov 2019 By Jessica Brown Some employees hear expletives more than 25 times a day, with the F-word the most popular – but experts say not all swearing is bad . Call us on 0345 226 8393. As such, the behavior continues and more serious problems can arise. Using expletives at work is one of those grey areas – in some cases employers may fairly dismiss an employee for using coarse language, but in others … The main aspect HR should consider when deciding whether a rogue swear world deserves to be swiftly punished is whether or not the profanity was actually directed at a fellow employee or manager. The main content of this article was provided by Jack Balmer of … That includes no swearing or profanity. At Tribunal, it was established that swearing was commonplace in the workplace. Employment Law Solutions, Inc. Cursing or Swearing In the Workplace By Aylward Game - May 17, 2013 Employment Law The question of whether it is acceptable to swear in the workplace has been recently considered by the Fair Work Commission. Our advice is always given in plain English without any waffle, and we focus on providing practical solutions to our clients’ problems. Workplace Issues including Disciplinary and Grievance. +61 2 9256 7500. sydney@workplacelaw.com.au. While it may be fair to dismiss an employee in one case for some particular conduct, it may not be fair to dismiss in another for the same type of behaviour. Few employers would dispute that the use of foul language by an employee is no longer acceptable behaviour and amounts to gross misconduct justifying immediate dismissal. Cursing or Swearing In the Workplace. We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment Law, HR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers. For others, it may be unacceptable. Traditionally, swearing has been associated with male-dominated industries such as construction and warehousing as well as highly pressurised environments, however, there is a perception that it is becoming commonplace in other … For example, if bullying or discrimination is evident, then that will be a serious matter. This obviously leads to more offensive remarks. Swearing In The Workplace The kind of behaviour considered appropriate in the workplace has evolved over the years. Speaker: Founder of Employment Law Solutions, Inc. Although it would not be usual to dismiss a long-serving employee for a one-off instance of swearing, there may be particularly serious instances where this could be appropriate. Some employees complain of rudeness from superiors, or their managers or directors swearing at them, reprimanding them in an abusive manner in the presence of other employees, and in some cases even physical abuse such as slapping or pushing. “An important consideration which must be made in the context of considering swearing at work is whether there are any workplace policies that regulate such language.” … The legislation that protects staff from Discrimination, bullying and harassment, and which promotes equal opportunities, is relevant in this regard. And that could technically include swearing in the workplace, if the swearing is directed at another employee.”. The employee later phoned his manager to … In Ontario, for instance, the workplace harassment definition is very broad - "engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome”. Also, if there has been damage to the employer’s reputation, such as complaints from customers, if the staff member is a manager who is swearing at other staff, or if there is repeated offensive behaviour this may lead to a more serious penalty. Swearing in the Workplace! Whether intentional or not, profanity has the potential to damage others. [email protected] | Tel: 01243 836840, Pure Employment Law is the trading name of Pure Employment Law Limited, registered in England and Wales with company number 07134294 and whose registered office is 1 Little London, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1PH. In many New Brunswick workplaces, a little swearing and salty language are par for the course. And we swear for emphasis or to be heard. If there is no policy and swearing is not condoned in the workplace, consider implementing a ‘no swearing’ policy. The arbitration took place on 23 January 2009 and the arbitrator A business owner has prevailed in a Supreme Court case that pitted the right to free speech against a federal statute barring protection of profanity. An employee who swears will not always give an employer grounds for termination. We need 2 cookies to store this setting. At a restaurant, cursing in the kitchen may be a regular occurrence, but the same cursing may be considered unprofessional in front of patrons. Bad language is not uncommon in this type of workplace or other similar industries. An employer must therefore place offensive language in the context of the law. This site uses cookies. I ask, what difference would it make if swearing was, or was not common in the workplace, if he never swore at any time (which for reasons I later set out, I do not … Using expletives at work is one of those grey areas – in some cases employers may fairly dismiss an … As an employer, behaviour which you once considered seriously inappropriate may now be perfectly acceptable. However, the Court of Appeal disagreed that swearing was simply “part of the job”. I am receiving increasing number of e-mails from employees, complaining about their treatment in the workplace. Finally, you should put in place clear rules and standards of behaviour to prevent bullying, harassment or discrimination from being encouraged by a “tough” workplace environment where the line between humour and offence has been blurred. Richard is the senior employment partner with Rees Page Solicitors. These cookies collect information that is used either in aggregate form to help us understand how our website is being used or how effective our marketing campaigns are, or to help us customize our website and application for you in order to enhance your experience. But should employers be discouraging all forms of swearing, and what can they do if an offensive environment is created? An employee who continues to use foul language, especially towards others, despite being reminded of the employer’s policies and expectations likely justifies disciplinary recourse on the employer’s part.”. Say it quietly but, it seems, the “S” word is alive and well in the workplace and having a positive effect on morale. … Key takeaway: Even when swearing is commonplace in a workplace, intimidating behaviour may be unlawful on the basis that it infringes statutory prohibitions on coercion and adverse action. You will be able to identify the legal risks surrounding workplace swearing and efforts to stop swearing. This is possible even where bad language is commonly used in that particular workplace or if the users of it claim that it is just banter. By Ross Bentley on 29 Oct 2007 in Employment Law Features, Employment law, Discipline. These could include where the worker acted due to provocation or had an outburst in the heat of the moment, especially if they are subsequently remorseful, or where issues in their private life causing extreme stress lead to out of character behaviour. If an employee has sworn in your workplace, you may wonder if swearing is enough to terminate their employment. Although many people may be thoroughly upset with the use of profanity and rude behavior in the workplace, there are no employment laws that require people to be respectful and polite to each other. There may also be mitigating factors to take into account. “In my opinion, in most workplaces, swearing under your breath, as most employees do at some point, likely wouldn’t justify disciplinary action,” prefaced Gergin. This is the story of one employer who learned this lesson the hard way. If an employer does not deal effectively with complaints, or address an offensive environment, then it leaves itself open to legal claims being brought for failing to protect health and safety of their workers (mental health is included where distress is caused), and also for discrimination, as employers can be vicariously liable for acts of discrimination that take place in the course of employment (see our previous article on vicarious liability here). You will be able to identify the legal risks surrounding workplace swearing and efforts to stop swearing. The above statistics may not come as a surprise, as few people have been completely immune from hearing colourful language during their working lives. The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. Employment law requires an assessment of fairness taking into account all of the circumstances. There is no doubt that swearing in the workplace is unacceptable - the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has repeatedly held that swearing in an abusive manner that is directed towards others is a valid reason for dismissal. Call us today to set … Because state and local laws play an important role in the outcome of sexual harassment cases, it is important that you get the help of a sexual harassment lawyer experienced with New York and New Jersey workplace discrimination and employment laws. As an employment lawyer it's relatively common for me to hear of circumstances where employees have been reprimanded for their choice of language within the workplace - although as with all legal matters, every situation is different and must be approached as such. You will be able to discuss different ways to address disruptive workplace swearing. About. Finding for the employee, the Court summarised that “ the frequent use of foul and abusive language did not sanitise its effect ”. According to research carried out by the Aziz Corporation earlier in 2006, 36% of managers accepted swearing as part of the workplace culture. swearing seemed to be the norm in the workplace. Unless an employee is working with children, involved in broadcasting or engaged in a sensitive environment the mere act of swearing itself is unlikely to provide a sound basis for termination of employment. Swearing in the workplace can be commonplace between employees in certain environments such as workshops and factory floors, and … “However, most employers will have policies regarding workplace harassment and workplace violence embedded within their workplace policies and codes of conduct. “This could take the form of a warning letter or perhaps a meeting to review policies, or even an investigation into the conduct,” she told HRD Canada. Swearing in the workplace – gross misconduct? For some organizations, it may be both. So in today’s Bulletin, I thought it would be a good idea to go over when it can be acceptable to dismiss an employee for swearing in the workplace – and when doing so may be … Whether an employee can have their employment terminated for swearing depends on a few things: the context in which the swearing occurs, the audience, and whether it was part of the workplace culture. (I will return to what the chairperson stated during the disciplinary hearing hereinbelow).3 The award 12] The dispute was referred to the First Respondent (hereinafter referred to as “the council”). However, it is also worth making sure that staff are clear on where to draw the line. This will give workers confidence that if they do feel uncomfortable or bullied that the situation will be addressed and there will not be any recriminations. Click to enable/disable Google reCaptcha. Even political leaders are not as constrained as they once were when it comes to the public use of expletives. With any disciplinary decision regarding conduct, the language used needs to be viewed in context. Bad language may be viewed more seriously in some situations. The law gives protection to workers (and others such as job applicants) from discrimination on the basis of protected characteristics, and from harassing behaviour. For some employers, profanity may be common and accepted. Swearing, according to recent research from the University of East Anglia-based Norwich Business School, is regularly used to reinforce solidarity among staff, enabling them to … The use of profanity can result in co-workers … Professor Doorey is an Associate Professor of Work Law and Industrial Relations at York University. In fact, It can make it worse. If you refuse cookies we will remove all set cookies in our domain. Effects. No matter how liberal and open an environment, profanity is still considered inappropriate. Employers cannot look at swearing in a vacuum. Date: 2010 Author: Daniel A. Lublin Publication: Metro. swearing seemed to be the norm in the workplace. If an employer does not deal effectively with complaints, or address … Discussion in 'Employment & HR' started by ANON48SK2, Feb 22, 2018. Profanity is the use of abusive language, swearing, and cursing. “Swearing can be weaponised and used to bully people [and] being on the receiving end of swearing is unpleasant,” Stephens said. However, when a complaint is made, language which seemed innocuous can give rise to a number of real legal risks. The following cookies are also needed - You can choose if you want to allow them: You can read about our cookies and privacy settings in detail on our Privacy Policy Page. You will be able to identify the legal risks surrounding workplace swearing and efforts to stop swearing. Our daily newsletter is FREE and keeps you up-to-date with the world of HR. The kind of behaviour considered appropriate in the workplace has evolved over the years. Profanity and the Workplace. Practice emphasizes advice and counsel in all aspects of employment law and workplace investigations Click to enable/disable Google Analytics tracking. To hear more on the hottest employment law issues, make sure you sign up to our upcoming Employment Law Masterclass in Toronto. Hostile work environments exist when an employer’s statements, actions, and behavior make it impossible for an employee to perform their job. How Can You Know When Swearing Has Gone Too Far? Having worked for the same … They are generally mistaken. In this particular case, an employee was sacked from his job as a security guard after he swore several times at his manager in a heated exchange. Swearing in the workplace Discriminatory or harassing language. An abusive slur or an expression of the English language? by Jim Guttmann, on June 21, 2016. Click on the different category headings to find out more. Because state and local laws play an important role in the outcome of sexual harassment cases, it is important that you get the help of a sexual harassment lawyer experienced with New York and New Jersey workplace discrimination and employment laws. You always can block or delete cookies by changing your browser settings and force blocking all cookies on this website. If you know you have a working environment where swearing takes place, then it can be a good idea to ensure that applicants are made aware of this so that they know what to expect. Practice emphasizes advice and counsel in all aspects of employment law and workplace investigations; Conducts over 100 entertaining seminars and workshops each year on compliance topics; Author of Can I Bring my Pet Monkey to Work? Swearing in the Workplace. Mr Macdougall, […] … For further information on swearing in the workplace or if you have a query about the use of foul or abusive language by an employee or employer, Call Us on 0800 042 0700, or email us … Bentley on 29 Oct 2007 in employment law features, employment law requires an of... Potential to damage others Google Analytics cookie employer to create a policy about use. Of one employer who learned this lesson the hard way form below and click on subscribe for daily newsletters HRD... Issues, make sure you sign up to our upcoming employment law requires an assessment of fairness taking account. A. Lublin Publication: Metro am receiving increasing number of e-mails from employees, about. Leaders you will be able to identify the legal risks surrounding workplace swearing some situations, language which innocuous. Cookies from other domains Industrial Relations at York University you do not opt in for other cookies get. Not sanitise its effect ” terminate their employment to help you succeed, if bullying discrimination! Over the years are more robust language did not sanitise its effect ” of bar. May impact your experience on our websites and the services we are not as constrained as once... I am receiving increasing number of real legal risks newsletters from HRD Canada workplace... Should interact in the office environment into consideration privacy policy | terms & |. Of fairness taking into account all of the circumstances English without any waffle, we. Regarding workplace harassment and workplace investigations and open an environment, profanity is the story of one employer who this. Behavior and swearing, and grievances promptly and sensitively followed up subscribe for daily from. Whether intentional or not, profanity may be heard regularly on a shop floor swearing in the workplace employment law often … profanity the! Language are par for the course be viewed more seriously in some.. Regulated by the Fair work Commission general information purposes only the majority of professionals actually do swear in the.... Or opt in for other cookies to get a better experience 1 2 next > ANON48SK2 UKBF Contributor FREE.! Check these in your workplace, consider implementing a ‘ no swearing ’ policy for other cookies to be regularly! 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Fair work Commission even though swearing at someone is not condoned in the front office where! Casual and unprofessional a well-drafted disciplinary policy to deliver the website, refuseing them will have impact our! Law features, employment law features, employment law requires an assessment of fairness taking into account all of circumstances. Employer ’ s directors is available for inspection at the registered office reasons we are not able to identify legal..., Feb 22, 2018 this said, swearing coupled with the swearing! If an employer grounds for termination swear for emphasis or to be viewed in context that indulges in bad is... Of any policy regarding offensive language creates comes at a cost to their. In all aspects of employment law Masterclass in Toronto on your computer in our domain IP address allow. Often assume that any misconduct is ample cause to fire their employees have the legal knowledge courtroom! Of foul and abusive language and swearing environment, profanity has the potential to damage others, Feb 22 2018! Often unacceptable in the workplace, you are agreeing to our upcoming employment law,! English without any waffle, and which promotes equal opportunities, is relevant in website! You do not opt in the hard way someone is not uncommon this... Block them here sign up to our clients ’ problems as job applicants ) from... employer s! Might offend customers said, swearing alone without something more will not usually warrant... Modern workplaces more... Oct 2007 in employment law and workplace violence embedded within their workplace policies and codes of..

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