My Co-worker Threatened Me!

Question:

A co-worker shared a bunch of information about a friend and colleague of mine that I thought wasn’t just. I informed her of it so she could snip it in the bud if it weren’t true. She went and talked to her and they settled the issue. A couple days later, I was working with the nurse that divulged this information and she flat out says I was purposely trying to start crap and she would no longer stand up or help me with anything at work.

Then she proceeded to complain about me to others all night long without using my name. She wanted to switch days off, but I couldn’t because I had already made plans. Then when our relief came in, she made a comment to our coworkers about being pissed off at someone and how she goes after the people that piss her off. She’s very opinionated and thinks everyone should bend for her. She thinks I should keep quiet and not say a word cause I’m much younger that her and am at her daughter’s age. How should I handle her? I don’t need the trouble. I have a kid to raise. My mom used to work with her and didn’t get along either and spent a lot of time in the boss’s office.

Signed,

Younger Nurse


Answer:

Dear Younger Nurse:

It appears that you have no choice but to confront this issue. Your immediate supervisor needs to be aware of this situation especially since your co-worker has stated that “she goes after people that piss her off.” By this token, ask for a conference with the appropriate supervisor and seek her/his advice about how to handle this problem. You will be accomplishing two significant things. You should receive constructive advice from this individual and, at the same time, will alert the boss of the threat.

In the conference be very specific about what transpired. Include all details with names of other parties who have knowledge of the events. I would be very concerned about the threat involved. What does this individual mean by “going after?” Is she speaking of physical harm or workplace vendetta? Indicate to your supervisor that you are concerned about this threat because its parameters are not clear. It might be a good idea to have another co-worker who witnessed this outburst to accompany you to this conference. There just may be strength in numbers in this case.

You might consider filing a grievance if the situation continues. The worker appears to be creating a hostile work environment. In fact you might consider using the term hostile work environment in your conference. It should gain the attention of your supervisor rather quickly.

In essence you definitely should consider doing six things:

Scheduling a conference

Including a witness

Asking for advice from administration (supervisor)

Indicating your concern about your personal safety

Filing a grievance

Scheduling a follow up conference during the first conference (probably at the end of

it)

Seeking a follow up conference will emphasize to your supervisor how serious you consider the matter. If the situation improves, thank your supervisor for her/his help and cancel the follow up. In any event thank your supervisor for listening and your witness for helping you.

Good luck but take some action for your own sake and safety. Let us know how this works out, please.

Good will, good sense, and good character are basic to transforming a hostile environment to WEGO mindedness.

Barry Hester