What are my rights if today while I was at work and a co-worker made me feel threatened?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What are my rights if today while I was at work and a co-worker made me feel threatened?

A situation happened and I was told to remind him he was there to do a job. When I did he got loud with me as took 3 threatening steps towards me. I told my boss, who was the one who told me to remind him he has a job to do, and all my boss said was ok. What are my next steps that I should take?

Asked on January 7, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

You can't really do anything pre-emptively (before being attacked--which we hope will not happen) unless you believe (and believe there would be credible evidence) that the threatening conduct was directed at you due to some protected characteristic of yours, the main ones of which are your race, religion, age over 40, sex, or disability. If you were subject to threatening conduct due to a protected characteristic and your employer does nothing about it, you may have an employment discrimination or harassment claim; if you believe that may be the case, you should contact the federal EEOC or your state equal/civil rights agency about possibly filing a complaint.
If the behavior wasn't discrimination against or harassment of you due to a protected characteristic--if, for example, your coworker simply doesn't like you personally--then your employer has no obligaton to get involved and there's no claim against the employer for failing to get involved.
That said, it would be wise for the employer to take action before this escalates: if you are harmed by a coworker after the employer has knowledge of a threat, then a failure to act can make the employer liable for your injuries under the theory of "negligent supervision"--that is, that they were unreasonably careless in supervising their employees. But this only comes into play after the fact, after there is an attack or injury; they are not required to take affirmative steps.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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