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

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 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.

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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