Making Threats

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about threat to punch a coworker:

I have a meeting at head office in regards me making a threat to a work college. Can I get fired for doing this? I did make a threat of me punching his face if he calls me dickhead again. Is that a serious thing?

Signed, I Said I Would

DearĀ I Said I Would:

Can you get fired? Possibly you could be because a threat to do physical harm is not like the childhood saying “names and faces don’t hurt me.” A threat to do physical harm is serious. And those who manage your work colleague are right in informing you that such a threat is out of bounds even when reacting to being called a bad name. However, your threat in reaction to being called an obscene name probably will be considered a natural reaction and the individual who called you a dickhead will be warned that too is out of bounds.

Our site doesn’t give legal advice, nor do I think this is a legal matter. Yet you should learn from this that a threat to do harm is serious and that you are no longer a kid on the playground. Keeping the peace is the responsibility of government and of those who manage a workplace. In sports, referees call penalties and sometimes kick player out for obscene taunting. Type in the word “threat” on the Internet and you will become aware that threats have long been defined and currently are considered a crime in some places, for example: At Common Law, an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.Whoever is convicted in the District of threats to do bodily harm shall be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, in addition thereto, or in lieu thereof, may be required to give bond to keep the peace for a period not exceeding 1 year.

In your situation, keeping the peace is a responsibility of your boss, manager and college, and you likely will be told that you were wrong in threatening to punch in a person’s face.

And you likely will be advised to ignore or report being verbally abused by obscene words. This incident should inform you that some words can escalate to violence. Hopefully, your supervisor will investigate the causes of the name calling and your threat and will then spell out the rules of what is unacceptable. Incivility is not. You should pledge not to threaten or respond in similar name-calling. Your supervisor would be wise to bring you and the name- caller together to talk about what provoked it and to challenge you each to mutually commit to communicate appropriately as is necessary in behalf of your workplace.

Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. In short, that means you and your coworker were hired to do jobs that are needed to make your work college function effectively. Focus on that. That’s why you are there. Don’t allow this run-in with a coworker to take your mind away from working with him. You two might come to an agreement on what you each can to do make each others’ job easier and more effective. One of those things is to communicate with a friendly attitude. Communicating civilly and graciously makes work go better. Will you let me know how your meeting goes?

William Gorden