Are workplace threats against the law?

UPDATED: Aug 1, 2011

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Are workplace threats against the law?

During my evaluation meeting with my supervisor about 2 weeks ago I was telling him that the way my evaluation was written was not acceptable. The evaluation is not the central point of this situation – that is separate. During the discussion, I interrupted my supervisor, after which he sat forward in his chair, furrowed his eyebrows, and started shaking his finger at me in a threatening manner. I thought he was going to come out of his chair at me. There have been a few other mild verbal threats in the past such as, “If you want to get on my bad side, do XXX.” and “If I don’t get XXX, I’m going to be peeved.” By themselves, I didn’t put much stock in them but after today’s events, I’m not sure I want to be around him. He’s a pretty big guy. After the threat, I called the local police department and tried to file a complaint. The officer on duty said he thought there may be something to this but told me to file a complaint through my HR department. I did this and met with the HR person and my supervisor’s boss. Several days later, I got a copy of the “resolution,” which was laced with intimidating statements and outright threats of disciplinary action for things that have absolutely never been brought to my attention before this. Do I have any kind of a case?

Asked on August 1, 2011 Missouri


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

This sounds like a cover up but you need to make sure you have your ducks in a row before all of this. You need to begin by getting all of your paperwork together and then make sure you have any good reviews and compliments ready as well. Then, you go to the HR department and you explain in writing (prepare a letter to give) that states you were never informed of these accusations, that this sounds retaliatory and that if this matter and his threats are not rectified, you will seek legal action. Then, seek legal action anway. His actions can be considered harassment and hostile working conditions and constructive termination. Talk to the labor lawyer and consider your options.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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