Threats After Boss Told Co-worker I Reported Him.

Question:

I reported a co-worker of mine for bringing his friends who do not work for the company to “help him out” during his shift. The friends are allowed to operate heavy machinery and carry around dangerous tools that are often used.

After about a four months I told my assistant managers I did not feel safe with the friends there. I was told they allowed him to bring his friends because they help with the quota. Last week I finally told the head manager who then talked to the assistant manager. Yesterday the co-worker I reported was talking to another employee loud enough for me to hear, saying a manager (who he called by name) told him what I did and that I was” snitching” and I was going to get what was coming to me.

Can an employer tell who reported them? What can I do because I really don’t want this to get any dirtier than it is.

Signed,

Worried


Answer:

Dear Worried:

This sounds like a very strange situation and I think there is more going on with it than the basic facts. Obviously the friends aren’t working for free, so they must have been hired part-time to help achieve a quota of work. The assistant manager told you it was OK. The manager must also agree with having them there or they would be gone. So, it sounds as though there is a big misunderstanding between you and your direct supervisor about the nature of the work being done by the friends of a coworker and whether your work is affected in any way by them.

If you thought they were working without pay, I can see your concerns. But it sounds as though a coworker was asked to recruit some friends to help and he did. If they are violating laws by having employees working on something that requires state licensing of some kind, that would also be a concern–and should be reported to the appropriate regulatory group. However, it doesn’t sound as though you think laws are being broken. So, looking back on it, this was probably a situation that would have been better left alone. It sounds to me as though you and the coworker didn’t get along anyway and this has just added to it. However, you now have a valid concern about what the reported coworker said where you could hear.

It seems you have two options, right now.

1. To avoid more reporting and reports about reporting, consider first going directly to the coworker. It won’t be easy, but it will be better than avoiding him forever. Say, “Tom, I can tell you’re angry at me. But I wish you’d think about it from my viewpoint. There are people using equipment that they aren’t supposed to use unless they’ve been trained. I had no idea what they were doing here. If you were in my shoes you would have asked a manager about it too.” (Or whatever would be the right thing to say about it.)

It may be that just talking to him will at least get rid of the thought that you were out to cause him trouble.

2. The other option is to go to your assistant manager again and tell him that you’re very worried over what was said within your hearing. Ask him if he will keep an eye out to make sure the coworker doesn’t cause you problems.

If you have email at your work, send your assistant manager an email first in which you express your worry. You can say that you will be talking personally to him about it but want to make sure he knows how concerned you are. Then, go talk to him. That way you have clear documentation of what you heard and how you felt about it.

It’s easy for me to say not to worry and that probably he was just talking out of anger, knowing you could hear him. But, you certainly will want to keep out of further controversy with him, without acting fearful so he feels that he has gotten power over you. That might just encourage him. This is the time to be supportive and friendly with others, contribute to the team and show through your actions that you don’t want to harm anyone, you just want to do your job well.

In time this will blow over and something else will take its place. I know it’s a bad situation now, but by focusing solely on your own work you can find your way through it and it will fade away. In addition, if your work is excellent and you are a source of good feelings around the workplace, you’ll get the support you need to counteract all of this. Best wishes to you.

Tina Lewis Rowe