What Are My Rights?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about boss bullying–swearing at me and grabbing my arm:

I was 20 minutes late for work. The manager called me into the office (you come here), where he then started swearing and threatening disciplinary action, then grabbed my arm.

Signed, Late Me

Dear Late Me:

What did you do when he grabbed your arm? Pull away and say, “Mr. Simon, (or whatever is his name) get control of your self. You can write me up for being late, but you have no right to grab my arm.” You want to know what are your rights? The word “rights” suggests that you are thinking in terms of what is lawful/unlawful in your company and country.

Likely your company has a policy handbook stating in one way or another, that discipline should be conveyed respectfully and that physical abuse is unacceptable within your workplace. You might consult it to learn what it says about this and about how discipline is to be handled.

Our site answers communication related question. We don’t give legal advice; however, such a single incident as this probably doesn’t rise to the level of you reporting an assault. Nevertheless, you would be wise to make a dated note of it, of your lateness for work and what your manager said and did. You have three-five choices about what you might do:

· Say nothing and review what in your behavior might cause such a volatile response,

· Apologize for being late,

· Talk with him about your objection to being sworn at, threatened with discipline and grabbed, and secure a commitment that he communicate respectfully with you.

· Request an investigation of this incident by Human Resources,

· Seek a transfer because you don’t feel safe working for a manager, who’s verbal and physical abusive, might escalate.

I recommend you consider all of these options, and that you elect one of the last two, if you’ve seen your manager explode on other occasions.Your manager should apologize and enter into anger management counseling.

Ideally, this incident will make you examine your workplace behavior. Was coming to work late just one more indication of inattention to what you are hired to do? Did your tardiness cause problems for others? Also ideally, your manager will reflect on how he responds to those he manages who fail to meet his expectations, and he will apologize to you.Conflict is inevitable within a work group. Learning how to cope with it is what matters. Hopefully, both your manager and you will do what it takes to have an employee friendly and productive workplace; one in which you both want to come to work. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden