Feeling Threatened By Coworker’s Boyfriend

Question:

Two weekends ago a lady and I were threatened by a coworker’s boyfriend at work, with her by his side, and their baby. He told us to stop harrassing his lady, I told him no one is harrassing her. He said you know I can take care of you, so you better watch it. He stayed to threaten the other lady I normally work with as well and was in her face(both him and the coworker) I found someone in supervision to go over there and throw him out of the store.

She asked the coworker if she was on the clock she said yes and they told her to go back to work and told the boyfreind of hers to leave. The other lady wanted to make a police report but management told her to just wait awhile.

We made statements that night stating what happened. I was off the next 3 days of work, when I returned no one in management talked with me about the situation or mentions one word to me. I found out from the lady I work with when she returned that the coworker still had her job and nothing seemed to be done. She said she had talked to the store maanger and told him the whole thing, he seemed to be in another world with no care as to what she was telling him about the situation. She said she felt like an idiot taking up his time. When she was done all he said was “Is there anything else I can do for you?” She was in shock and just left his office.

I didn’t bother to go to anyone after all this, I felt what was the use? But this boyfriend of hers is a previous gang member in another state, so here we are looking behind our backs every minute and staking out the parking lot and cars to make sure no damage is done to them. This company did NOTHING.

We ended up calling the police to make a report since we did have our statements on what had happened that evening. He ended up putting the coworker on the police report too, so she now knows about it. The next day after the police report was done, more and more people in the work place are getting involved into this mess. The coworker is pregnant and using that as a poor me excuse of it all. This all really started back in December with something that happened then that I felt was rude behavior by the coworker toward the other lady, who had helped her out. I told her I thought she hadn’t treated the other lady right, and she got upset about it and pointed me out to her boyfriend.

Now it is months later and I am being threatened at work for harrassing her from just stating my opinion on the treatment she gave another lady. And the company seems to be doing nothing about it, it keeps getting bigger and bigger and worse.

The thing that upsets me is that The company is doing nothing about it. Then they put me to work in the same department with this coworker this past weekend, I said “No, no I can’t work there”, so they changed me. We don’t even talk with her, not since I had confronted her many months ago. Shouldnt she have been fired for bringing someone to threaten others lives? I just feel justice was not served here.

Signed,

Feeling Threatened


Answer:

DearĀ Feeling Threatened:

Situations such as the ones you describe are very difficult to deal with, at any level, which is why it often seems that nothing gets done. It is hard to know who started what, and what was said by whom. And, of course, everyone presents it from their own perspective. Without an objective witness who has nothing to gain or lose by telling the truth, it’s almost impossible to know who is doing the most to keep a conflict going, or why it started in the first place.

It seems there are three issues: 1.) Did management handle your complaints appropriately?2.) Can you do something now to ensure that management is aware of your concerns? 3.) Is it possible for you and the coworker to work together effectively, even though you don’t like each other?

Your manager and supervisor were apparently not present when the remarks were made by your coworker’s boyfriend. It may be they didn’t get a clear picture of the situation, or it may be they felt the remarks were not threatening. Or, they may feel this is a back and forth contentious situation and they just hope it will go away.

I can imagine the boyfriend was frightening and threatening, in the sense that he said something that sounded sinister. But I would doubt any charges will be filed against him, because the threat was not very specific. It may be that the police will present the matter to a district attorney’s office who will think it fits the legal requirements for a threat, and if that happens, you will certainly know about it. Often a person has to hear the tone, see the facial expression and hear the exact words, to realize how threatening something can sound.

As I mentioned, it may be that your managers and supervisors feel this is a conflict that has no right side or wrong side because both sides have contributed. I’m not saying that’s the case, just saying that it sounds as though your workplace has some conflict and verbal confrontations, and managers may feel this was just one more of them. That is unfortunate, since these situations can lead to serious actions. But, I can also understand that without hearing it first hand, they may not realize the seriousness of it.

From the viewpoint of feeling threatened,I would think the boyfriend would be much more likely to cause harm if his girlfriend was fired, so that may be the thought of managers as well!

But, since the coworker did not threaten you physically, I can understand why your managers would think it would be hard to justify firing her for what her boyfriend said to you. I do hope though that he is not allowed to hang around work any longer!

If you company is part of a chain or part of a larger company, you may want to contact HR at the highest levels and explain your concerns and ask for their help. At the least they might suggest mediation to help resolve the contentious situation.

There is little you can do about the prior situation, but perhaps you can use that to show yourself as someone willing to work for a better situation in the future. If I were you I would talk to a supervisor or manager and say that you want to go on the record as saying you feel unsafe at work because of the actions of the boyfriend, that you do not want him in the workplace unless unnecessarily, that you do not want your coworker participating in any harassing behavior or you, and that you want to make sure you can go to management the moment something happens that makes you feel threatened again.

Also,I would go a step further and directly ask my supervisor or manager if they see another viewpoint of this that you are not seeing. You might say, “I just want to be able to come to work and do my job, then go home, without being afraid someone will come in and hurt or kill me or someone else, or hurt my car or my house. I don’t want to be in the middle of a conflict all the time. I don’t think I have done anything to cause this kind of reaction, and I think I do my best to avoid a problem. Do you see it differently? If you do, I need to know that. I want you to be honest with me, and tell me the truth.”

At least that way, you’ll know what they’re thinking. If they say they agree with you, you can feel more confident of their support. If they say they think you are causing the problems as much as she is, you’ll know that too–and maybe can do some things to change their minds. Don’t argue if you don’t agree with them, just accept it and say that while you don’t agree, you will still work on the issues. That will bring you to the issue of whether it is possible to get along better with the coworker in the future. You don’t have to be phony or insincere, just courteous. Say hello and goodbye, ask questions, help when needed, and do the other things that an effective employee is expected to do. When you don’t talk to her, it probably stands out strongly and makes you look bad to at least some others, and makes her angry every day. I don’t think you’ll ever be friends, but you don’t have to give her the silent treatment. Just co-exist in a mature way and work to calm things down.

I can imagine this is unnerving and frustrating, but it sounds as though there is not much you can do to force a change right now. You can, however, act in such a way that you clearly are showing yourself willing to get along. Best wishes as you find a way to work through this so you can keep your job and stay safe as well.

Tina Lewis Rowe