Can my employer force me to sit down and talk to an abusive co-worker?

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Can my employer force me to sit down and talk to an abusive co-worker?

I have a co-worker that has repeatedly verbally and physically abused me. Now they have moved to defamation of character and also increasing my workload at the cost of patient care and reducing other co-workers workload.

I have a supervisor that when I discusses the problem what me to sit down and talk about it with my abuser, is this allowed and will the effect the defamation of character lawsuit I am thinking of proceeding with a lawyer?

Asked on March 14, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, your employer can require you to speak to an abusive co-worker to try to resolve the issues between you, and could legally terminate you if you refuse to do so, since you would be disregarding your employer's instructions. As to whether it will affect the lawsuit--if you say something damaging to your case, like a statement that the comments didn't really bother you (which could undercut the damages, or compensation, you could get by underplaying the harm) or that his/her comments had a basis in truth (which makes them not defamation; the truth is never defamation)--it would be used against you; therefore, be careful what you say.


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