Co-worker Threatening To Blow Up The Company

Question:

There is an employee that works in my office who regularly threatens to blow up the building while complaining about how horrible it is to work here. She commonly refers to her job as ‘hell’ and to her superiors as ‘Nazis’. I have told my manager along with a couple of other managers as well as the VP of human resources. No one has done anything or even talked to her about it. She doesn’t really do anything all day and is routinely on the phone with coworkers at other locations telling them about how she has been talking to her husband about different ways she could blow up the company.

She has also stated that she can do whatever she wants and will not get fired because she will just say that the president of the company sexually harassed her. I am trying to find another job but the market is very slow right now. In the meantime, I’m wondering if there is anything, legally, that I can do to protect myself and my other co-workers from this woman who they refuse to stop.

Signed,

Is It Just Talk?


Answer:

Dear Is It Just Talk?:

A threat, especially a repeated threat, to blow up one’s workplace is not simply idle talk. People are in your place of work. Such a threat is not acceptable talk, any more that is a threat to kill a specific person. Our site does not give legal advice; however, we can point you to seek such. Sure this woman might simply get attention by venting frustration about her dislike of her job and life; however, we can’t assume specific threats of violence are just talk.

From here, the problem might not only be wild-talking coworker. You would know better than I. Even when we have a potentially violent employee, most likely there are factors within the system that causes and/or enables such threats. Moreover, this coworker who flaunts her job security might have “blackmail” evidence rather than simply would pose an idle accusation of harassment. I don’t know. Nor do I know your motives for sending this question, but I assume you took the time to write because you are indeed worried about this threatening coworker. You don’t say if you have told her to making threats are wrong and to stop.

You “telling” your manager and VP about this threat obviously hasn’t stopped such talk; therefore, you have to decide if you want to press this matter further. If you do, there are at least two or three overlapping options before you: · Again orally and this time in writing inform management and Human Resources. Request an immediate investigation of these threats. You say she “regularly” makes a threat to blow up the building. Consequently, you should have witnesses of them and should be able to document them. Prepare a log of what was said, her language used, when, where and witnesses. Also an investigation can’t ignore her assertion that she is immune from firing because she can prevent it because she could charge that was retaliation for sexual harassment. Say that you are worried enough about your safety that unless action is taken, you will seek outside help; an attorney and police. That will get action. · Quietly and privately seek outside counsel; from clergy, an attorney, friend. · Report these threats to the police. That should result in an investigation. Possibly my associate Workplace Doctor, Tina Lewis Rowe, will add to these her thoughts. She is career experience-wise about such matters and might see this situation differently. Because charging a coworker of potential violence is very serious and a risk to you, management might separate that individual from you or you from that individual until and even after an investigation is completed. Please weigh these thoughts and feel free to get additional advice from someone you respect. Don’t make it a topic of gossip and delay. Threats are not to be taken lightly, so especially if the threats have become more frequent or violent, do not hesitate to act. My closing advice: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, is not just idle talk. Some situations demand that we have the courage to confront behavior that can harm.

William Gorden