Co-Worker Plays Music and Managers Haven’t Helped!

Question:
I have a co-worker who has been in our office six months. I have been there ten years. She plays her music right next to my cubicle and I’ve told her many times I can’t concentrate with her music on. But she doesn’t care. I’ve gone to my managers and all they say is well we can hear you when you talk or laugh way back here. Nothing is done about the radio or the disrespect this girl shows towards me. I’m at a loss. Is there a law about this anywhere? I am a federal employee so I’m not sure if the laws are different.

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Accused Wrongly, But Feeling That I May Be Fired After Years Of Good Work!

Question:

I asked a coworker if she had the information I needed that was sent to her in an email. She said she didn’t know anything about this. When I asked her if she had she read her email or talked to another person about this matter, she yelled at me to not speak to her that way. I was totally shocked at her response that I said “What???” while holding my hands up. I never expected this response. She then screamed at me several times with a raised arm and pointed finger to get out of her office. I said “What?” again and proceeded to defend myself. She then yelled at me again to get out with a raised arm and pointed finger.

I very furiously left her office. I’m not sure if there were any witnesses but I was alone in her office. I have never had a workplace experience like this. My supervisor was not there so I called her and explained what had happened. She said we would talk to our Director when she got in on Monday. The co-worker and I were requested to meet with our Director. She refused to meet but instead filed a claim with our HR Department. She told them that I threatened her by coming around her desk with putting my hands into her face. I met with our HR Department to explain my side of the story and it felt like an interrogation rather than a fact finding meeting.

I have worked for this university for 9 years as staff employee and she is faculty that has been here less than one year. I love my job and just given a glowing employee review by my supervisor who said she feels I have nothing to worry about and will stick her neck out for me. I have been crying for two days. Can I be fired for this? Any help is appreciated.

Response:

Hello and thank you for sharing your workplace concern.

An employer can dismiss someone who they think has violated rules, policies and procedures. However, whether they do so or not, depends upon a number of factors. Since there were no witnesses, HR and managers above you and the faculty member will be considering whether it seems likely you could have or would have done what the faculty person alleges. Then, they will consider whether or not a reasonable person would have felt fearful if you had, in fact, done the things alleged. If they decide the incident most likely did occur, they would then need to decide the appropriate sanction—from warning, to reprimanding, to suspension or similar punishments, to dismissal. So, although firing is always a possibility, your story would indicate there would be lesser actions or no action at all.

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