I Was Threatened By A Co-worker.

Question:

A co-worker threatened me and they even confessed it to our manager. This employee has verbally harassed me since they have been there for 2 years prior to this. The big boss has done nothing but the manager told me that I have legal rights to a safe work environment and I should talk to a lawyer about being threatened. I documented it all through e-mail to both the manager and the boss since they threatened me.

Signed,

Threatened and Harassed


Answer:

Dear Threatened and Harassed:

Yes, you have a right to a safe work environment. Yes, you should speak to an attorney to learn if you are still threatened harm. Our site doesn’t advise on legal matters; however, you should know that a legal answer to a threat you say happened two years ago and has continued as verbal harassment probably isn’t a case that you could win. You have not been physically harmed in two years since the threat and verbal harassment is a vague term that isn’t slander or libel although obviously irritates you.

Your manager and company should handle the matter rather than place that burden on you. Apparently, they didn’t consider your report and confession of a threat serious enough to investigate it, and they aren’t concerned enough to correct the verbal harassment you say has followed. Have you logged what you recall was said in the threat and the words and gestures that have harassed you for two years? I recommend that you do your best to list describe what was said to you at specific times and describe situation that prompted those events. Be as explicit as possible including who might have witnessed each incident. Also explain how they affected you doing the jobs to which you were assigned. Provide copies to your manager and also take that log to your Human Resources, requesting relief.

Do take time to think about how you have might have precipitated them and how you have reacted. Have you said firmly, “Sam, please stop badgering me. I’ll try not to make your job difficult if you simply say what is bothering you?” Have said, “Can we let the past be past and just get along?” Have you said, “I’ve asked you to knock off the nasty talk, but you have continued. Will come with me to our manager to learn if we can resolve what is getting under your skin so much that you belittle me?” Then if he/she refuses, you can make that trip to the manager or HR by yourself.

The problem probably is that this particular individual has gotten used to talking badly to and about you. You too might seem to that person to accept such harassing talk as just the way it is. Could you appear to be used to it even when you are angry inside? I’m sure you know there’s no quick fix to changing bad habits. If you question means that you are simply “won’t take it any more”, then now is the time to say so and to meet with those who have the authority to change the way that employee and you communicate. Either one of you needs to be transferred of some do and don’t rules about how you communicate need to be spelled out if you two must work in the same area.

And after those rules are made known, your manager should monitor and check with you two to learn how well they are working. Sam and you were hired to do jobs that add value; to cut wasted supplies, time, defective products/service; and to find ways to satisfy internal and external customers. Do not be shy about being the kind of employee you would hire if you were boss. Do not hesitate to assert your self. Working together should not be a hassle. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Think about how making a commitment to wegos might apply to your workplace. Let me know if any of these thoughts make sense to you and what you decide to do.

William Gorden