After 11 years in my job, because of a misunderstanding with my coworker, I have been suspended and so is the coworker. I should not fear the suspension. My co-worker threatened to hit and even to kill me with no reason. When I was assaulted, I called my supervisor. Then he told me write a statement. I did, but after this, they called a union steward, and both of us were suspended with pay. I think that this is not right because I did nothing wrong. I was told the suspension will last until HR’s investigation is over. Please I need some advice. Thank you.


Waiting For This To Be Over


Dear Waiting For This To Be Over:

You are worried and hoping soon to be told to return to work. For now what should you do? Wait and worry? It is hard not to because the situation has been taken out of your hands. But for now, do not sit and stew. Rather use this time to your advantage. Possibly go fishing and/or do chores that have been begging to be done. While doing chores, don’t obsess about what happened, but do ask yourself what triggered your coworker to threaten to hit and kill you. HR will want to learn that. A threat to kill should not be overlooked and your employer is taking that seriously. Investigator(s) will want to know if others heard the threat or if it is just your word against his. HR also will want to know if there is a history to this “misunderstanding” that lead to raised voices and a threat.

The investigation probably will result in a draft of a report and you should be allowed to read and then sign off on it if it seems fair to you. If in your mind it grossly misstates what occurred, request that you can amend it. In such an addition, be careful to say only what you know to have happened. Don’t exaggerate. Don’t make light of what happened. Succinctly put in writing how and why you disagree with the findings of the investigation. Hopefully, that will not be necessary.

If you have an opportunity, mention that you have worked in this place for 11 years, and, if you can say so truthfully, state that before this you have never been involved in this sort of conflict. Also declare your commitment to doing good work and to working cooperatively with all others. Possibly after reviewing what triggered this conflict, you will want to apologize to the coworker who threatened you and offer to do all in your power to work cooperatively. Don’t hesitate to apologize if you can do so sincerely.

However, it also is possible that HR will want to chair a reconciliation meeting between you and your coworker. In a meeting, you might come to an understanding about who does what, when, and where. Such a clarification should help prevent conflict. Also hammer out a few simple rules about how it is best to communicate; what are the dos and don’ts of how you speak to one another, rules that can make each of your jobs less frustrating and more effective. HR might recommend that one of the other of you two be assigned elsewhere.

Hopefully you and your coworker can let the past be past and resolve to work cooperatively in the future. Working together with hands, head, and heart, sometimes comes to conflict, but that is an opportunity to do what it takes and makes to build big WEGOS.

William Gorden