Violence Archives

I fear workplace violence, but also getting fired if I complain. Suggestions?

Published on April 4th, 2013 by Alan Sklover

Question: I am very fearful of another employee who was recently discharged from a mental hospital, who has openly stated how much he hates and despises me.

In his job, he handles sharp instruments each day, all day long, which makes me nervous about being anywhere near him.

Management has allowed this to happen even though he exhibited the same behaviors before he was committed to the mental hospital.

I need my job. What do I do?

Cheryl
Spotsylvania, Virginia

Answer: Dear Cheryl: Fear is a debilitating and damaging emotion, and can even cause loss of health. Fear of violence – and particularly workplace violence –  is an increasing problem, worldwide. Here are my thoughts:

1. Your first consideration – before anything else – must be concern for your safety; nothing is more important. No matter what the chances may be that you will suffer a violent act, you have reason to believe that your chances are elevated by the actions, statements and history of your co-worker, and that is not right.

I acknowledge your fear of losing your job, and I acknowledge the fear you may have of being without a job, and all that comes with being unemployed. But those fears are secondary – at best – to your reasonable fear that you may be harmed by an act of violence at work. Once harmed, there is no going back in time; you don’t get a second chance once violence has taken place.

2. Second – employers are now almost everywhere legally required to provide safe workplaces for their employees, under federal – and many state – workplace safety laws. Don’t think you are being too sensitive, or too worried – than is justified. And don’t think you are alone in this, because you are not. Unfortunately, there has been an increase worldwide in people being intentionally harmed at work by the violent acts of their coworkers.

The U.S. government, through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) now requires that employers address safety concerns like yours, as do an increasing number of states and local workplace safety agencies. Many countries have, in fact, acted faster than has the U.S. government in placing workplace safety obligations upon the shoulders of employers.

Simply put, you have every reason to need protection from workplace violence, every right to demand protection from potential violence, and your employer has every legal obligation to ensure you get that protection. Period.

3. A written request/demand for protection from workplace violence is truly needed, and most effective. I am a firm believer, and I don’t think I will ever change my mind, that important communications – and this is surely one of those – must be in writing, and sent by a verifiable means, namely email. When you put things into writing, everyone is clear and certain (a) what you said, (b) how you said it, (c) to whom you said it, and (d) when you said it.

Making your request for protective measures in written form actually works to prevent the employer retaliation you fear, as well as the possibility that your colleague will retaliate, as well. This is because, as a general rule, people will not do “bad” things if they are confident that “bad” things will then be done to them in return. Or, as my mother taught me, “When people feel they will be held accountable, they are more likely to be responsible.”

In any request for protection from workplace violence, you should note your fear of retaliation – either by your colleague or management, because, that too acts to deter retaliation.

For those like yourself who have fear of workplace violence, we offer a Model Memo to Your Employer Insisting on Protection from Workplace Violence.  It can help you get the protection you need. “What to Say and How to Say It.  To obtain a copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

4. You may also want to alert the local police precinct of your concern and request for protection. In my experience, it has always been beneficial for my clients who fear workplace violence to file a report of concern at the local police precinct. Either the Precinct Commander will send an Officer over to speak with the business owner, or at the very least, you can give your boss a Police Report Number to show him or her that you are quite serious about protecting yourself. If an incident later does take place, (a) the Police will know exactly “who is who, and what is what,” and your employer will have no excuse for not having acted appropriately. Who knows? Your tormenter may just fear the Police, and learn to control himself or herself as a result.

5. Having a written “record” of your concerns and fears, the many good reasons for them, your Police Report and your request to your employer, can only help you obtain the many advantages and benefits of the concept we invented called “involuntary resignation.” Sure, sure, the two words that make up the phrase “involuntary resignation” seem inconsistent with one another. However, if you do decide to leave, by giving your employer an expressly “involuntary resignation,” which sets forth the facts, events and circumstances underlying the reason you had no choice but to leave – and the fact that it was not what you really wanted to do – you (i) preserve your right to receive unemployment benefits, (b) preserve your right to receive severance, (c) preserve your right to sue your employer for any damages, (d) if applicable, preserve your right to collect deferred compensation or unvested equity, and (e) provide your next employer or the employer after that with a good, sound, documented reason for your departure.

If you would like to obtain a Model “Involuntary Resignation” Letter for your adaptation with your own facts, events and circumstances – but that still provides “What to Say, and How to Say It,”™ – just [ click here. ]

For these reasons, always remember to keep copies of letters, memos, emails and other materials that may serve to support your concerns, your fears, and your attempts to resolve the situation.  The truth is the truth, and is always on the side of honest people.

6. But, in the end, it all goes back to dealing with your fears . . . Cheryl, fear is the first emotion, and the most basic of human instincts. It is deeply related – some even say rooted – in our innate desire to go on living. For most people, I sometimes think, it is the “default” emotion, that people go back to almost invariably, unless there exists a reason not to fear.

I spend a lot of time pondering why people have fears, the effects of fear on people, and how people might overcome their fears. I could write a million words about the subject of fear, but I don’t think it would help you. Perhaps this one thought might at least help: If you don’t protect yourself, you may not be available to help those you love, such as your children, your spouse or life partner, your parents, brothers and sisters, or good friends. Many people need to think about “other fears,” including the fear of being unable to help those they love, in order to block out the fears that lie directly “in front of them.”

Think of the person you love the most in the entire world, and that person being helpless, frightened, perhaps in pain, and his or her looking to you for help, and your not being able to help. If you don’t help yourself in this position of potential victimhood by workplace violence, you may be unable to help the ones you love when they really need you to. Give it some thought. It is remarkable that, for so many people, it is their love for others that enables them to show the courage to demand safety for themselves, and thus prods them into standing up for themselves.

Cheryl, I hope this has been helpful to you. I really, really do.

My Best to You,
Al Sklover

P.S.: You might be interested in our New Employment Negotiation Checklist for potential “rewards, risk-limiters, and role-enhancers” to consider requesting from your new employer. To obtain copy, just [ click here ]. Delivered by Email – Instantly!

©  2013 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

“My HR Director gave a company ID to her husband, a sex offender. Your thoughts?”

Published on November 14th, 2012 by Alan L Sklover

Question: My HR Director has given her husband, who is a registered sex offender, an ID to our company where there are women working alone at night. He is not an employee and can come and go as he pleases with this ID. 

She is very cold to all of us, and hires only her friends and puts them in high positions. 

HR does ID and criminal checks on all of us, yet gives her husband an ID to come and go as he pleases when he has a record. 

Do I have a case to make a complaint? To get her fired? 

Aaron
Los Angeles, California

Answer: Dear Aaron: There is no question about it: you have a right to a safe workplace, and so do your co-workers. Here are my thoughts:  

1. Every employee has a right to a safe workplace, and to be free from potential or likely harm. Both state and federal laws make it quite clear that every employee has a right to a safe workplace, and our societal standards for what constitutes a “safe workplace” are getting higher and higher each day, as we read more and more about unfortunate events of workplace violence. Employees are increasingly aware of these legal rights, and so are increasingly exercising them, as they well should.    

 2. For this reason, every employee has a right to (i) report, (ii) complain of, and (iii) demand protection from known, likely and potential workplace risks to their well-being. And, not only does an employee have the right to report known or likely dangers to workplace safety, but it has become almost a moral – if not legal – obligation to do so, just as it would be for an employee to report (a) chemical spills, (b) fires, and (c) collapsing roofs, at work.  

I might suggest that you first look over your Employee Handbook, HR Manual or company policies to determine how such a complaint should be addressed, for following proper procedure can often help in such matters. 

At the same time, I would caution you against making any such complaint by use of spoken words. No matter what, even if you are required to report and complain of such matters by spoken word, or a telephone hotline, I strongly urge you to use, also, email, for in using an email (a) what you expressed, (b) how you expressed it, (c) who you expressed it to, and (d) when you expressed it, are all a matter of record.   

3. However, every person must be careful about saying or writing things about others that just might be false, because that could be defamation. When an employee reports what he or she believes to be facts about a person who they believe has shown a likelihood to be violent to another person, great care must be taken in doing so. That is because false statements of fact about another person that are injurious to that person’s reputation constitute defamation, and can result in legal accountability.  

Imagine, just for a moment, how you would feel if someone reported to your boss that you, or your brother or sister, was a convicted criminal, or perhaps even a registered sex offender – and it was false. Imagine that it actually was a person with a similarly sounding name, but people still refused to associate with you, and as a result of what was said or written, you were asked to no longer pray at your Church, Mosque or Synagogue. Wow, that would really hurt, wouldn’t it?

Well, the law provides that, in such a case, you could sue the person who made the false statement about you, and a jury might award you a lot of money for your losses, your pain, and your humiliation. 

I strongly suggest using words like “I am not certain, but this is what I have heard,” or “I am not accusing him of being a sex offender, but I have heard it said by others.” If you don’t have direct proof of a person’s prior bad acts, then you should be open and honest about that, for both his and your best interests. The key here is to be precise and careful in your words whenever you accuse someone of something.  

To assist people in your circumstances, we offer a Model Letter entitled “Insisting on Protections from Workplace Violence” you might use it as a model for your own letter or memo insisting that something be done to eliminate the apparent danger of the purported sex offender in your midst. To obtain a copy, just [click here]. 

We also offer a Model Letter entitled “Anonymous Complaint about Bully Boss” which while it is intended to help you get protection of a different type, can quite easily be adapted to be used to anonymously insist on protection from potential workplace violence, including the purported sex offender in your midst. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of this Model Letter, simply [click here].

4. I don’t think you can safely, effectively – or wisely – use this very real problem at your workplace as a device to have the HR Director fired, either to settle old slights or to “get even.” The problem is the potential for sexual attack, not to necessarily get someone fired. If it is your primary intention to get the HR Director fired, there is a good chance that this could actually backfire on you, as actions taken to hurt others often hurt ourselves more.   

Sure, the HR Director might just get fired after your reporting the problem, but my own experience is such that a person in your situation would be wise to examine his or her true motives in the matter, and decide what to do from there. “Knives” can cut the person attacked, but they can also cut “the attacker.” 

Aaron, I hope this is of assistance to you in understanding the problem, its potential solutions, and the assistance that we have made available to you. 

My best to you,
Al Sklover

P.S.: One of our most popular “Ideal Packages” of forms, letters and checklists is entitled “Ideal PIP Response Package” consisting of two Model Responses (first and second), and three Model Letters seeking support from others, as well as our 152-Point Guide and Checklist for a PIP. To obtain a complete set, just [click here.]

Repairing the World –
One Empowered and Productive Employee at a Time ™

© 2012 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

“I fear workplace violence; what should I do?”

Published on August 19th, 2012 by Alan Sklover

Question: I’ve been a victim of a physical altercation with a co-worker. He “chest-bumped” me three times trying to provoke a fight. He outweighs me 100-150 pounds, took Karate, plays violent video games, and has a concealed gun permit. He has even bragged about having a gun in his car. I’m now fearful of my safety at work!

I’ve filed a complaint with the company. I’m in a hostile and unsafe work environment. I’ve informed the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), and have filed a police report of the incident. I’m off work now due to the altercation.

What should I do next legally?

Bill
Eugene, Oregon

Answer: Dear Bill: Workplace violence is a very, very serious subject, and one that all employees and employers, and all others, really need to treat in a serious fashion. All too often threats turn into actual injury or death, and the “chest-bumping” and other characteristics of your victimizer as you describe them, sure seem to paint a vivid picture of real risk of future violence.

1. One immediate “legal” step you might consider is petitioning a local court for an “Order of Protection.” One “legal” step you have apparently not taken, but is available to you, is to request from a local Court an “Order of Protection.” This is a Court Order requiring your vicitimizer to refrain from a variety of things which might include (a) threatening you, (b) glaring at you, (c) even coming within 100 feet of you, under threat of immediate arrest if he violates it. Though most common in domestic disputes between husbands and wives, such Orders of Protection are available to anyone in your circumstances. Your local District Attorney should be able to assist you in this regard. If you wish, you may hire an attorney to assist you, as well.

2. Under U.S. federal workplace safety laws, employers are responsible for ensuring a safe working environment for their employees. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act, which is administered by the OSHA agency, applies to virtually all employers. It requires employers to furnish employees a workplace “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm” to employees. If an employer has reason to know of possible workplace violence (by means of threats, intimidation or stalking, as examples) but does not take appropriate steps to protect its employees, OSHA may impose civil fines and penalties ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 per violation, depending on the seriousness of the threat. Most states have laws similar workplace safety laws and agencies.

3. If you have been financially “injured” – due to medical expense, or lost income due to being out of work – you may be able to collect “Workers Compensation” benefits, provided you have filed a Workers Compensation claim. In the early twentieth century, as we evolved full-gear into an industrial society, many workers suffered injuries on the job due to industrial accidents. As a society, we decided it was best to create a way to take care of these workers and, at the same time, avoid an untold number of employee-vs.-employer lawsuits from clogging our courts. All states that I know of created a special kind of insurance fund for these claims and set up separate systems for filing such claims. All employers are legally required to contribute into these Workers Compensation funds, as a legal requirement of being an employer.

If you did suffer such costs, you do need to consider filing a Workers Compensation claim. You would ask your employer’s Human Resources department for the necessary information, and it would be best to locate and retain a specialized Workers Compensation attorney to assist you. (Incidentally, in all states I know of, legal expense is a covered expense; the injured worker does not have to pay any legal fees.) Bear in mind that a claim for Workers Compensation is not a claim or lawsuit against your employer, but instead merely a claim to an insurance fund set up for this very purpose.

One significant limitation on Workers Compensation is that the injury – here, the “altercation” would have to be “connected” to the job, that is, arise directly from it.

4. If, however, your injury did not arise “in connection” with your job, Workers Compensation may not be available to you. If an employee loses a hand due to a malfunctioning machine, it is clear that the injury arise “in connection” with the job. What if an employee is beaten up by a co-worker? As a general rule, Workers Compensation is available if the altercation arose in connection with the job, say, for example, if you were driving a forklift, drove over your co-worker’s toe, and he then slugged you. However, as a general rule, if you played poker on Saturday night with your co-worker, and he accused you of cheating, and a fight arose at the office, then that injury would not be one eligible for Workers Compensation coverage. If you are not eligible for Workers Compensation benefits, or believe you may not be, then you are free to consider both (a) threatening to sue your co-worker for (i) battery (which is generally defined as unlawful touching) or (ii) assault (which is generally defined as threatening a battery), or (b) threatening to sue your employer for negligence.

5. If your injury is not covered by Workers Compensation, then you might consider raising a legal claim (that is, a potential lawsuit) against your employer if you believe it has been negligent in (a) hiring, (b) failing to properly supervise, or (c) retaining, a person it has reason to know has been violent or threatening in the past. In your note to me, you did not note serious injury, and you did not say you were interested in leaving your employment. If either is the case, you could consider raising a legal claim against your employer if you feel it has been negligent in this matter in the ways I have noted above, and either hire an attorney to help evaluate any such claim before raising it with your employer.

If you think leaving your job might be the wisest course of action, and that you have a legal claim for employer negligence, then you might, too, consider asking for a reasonable severance package to assist you in leaving and finding a new job elsewhere.

We offer a Model Letter entitled “Proactive, Pre-Termination Request for a Severance Package” that might be of help to you in the event you choose this path. To obtain a copy, just [click here.]

6. Please bear in mind: the seriousness of some injuries – physical and emotional – may not arise for weeks, months or even years. As my friends and I age, we realize more and more how the “bumps, bruises and blemishes” of life may have unforeseen and later-arising consequences later in life. That is true, for example, for sports accidents, which may lead to later consequences that are far more serious than were originally thought. And, as are experienced by soldiers returning from combat zones, these are both emotional and physical. I ask you to bear this in mind in all of your decisions as to what steps may be prudent, especially legal ones. I say this because there is a deadline – called a “statute of limitations” – for the filing of every kind of claim you can now bring, and so your tardiness in filing a legal or Workers Compensation claim by one day past that deadline may make your claim totally unenforceable. Statutes of limitation are different for each legal claim, and vary a bit from state to state. In most states, the minimum statute of limitation for any claim is one year from the date of occurrence.

7. As both a legal step and a practical step, it’s important to continue to demand safety from your employer, and possibly, too, to demand certain cautionary preventive steps be taken. For your protection, to proactively prevent any possible harm to you, and to support any case you may take in the future, I strongly suggest continuing requests to your employer to protect you from such potential harm, and to include in such requests any ideas you may have for what may be helpful – and reassuring – to you.

Such steps and measures might include, among others: (a) asking other employees to closely observe your victimizer’s actions and statements for acts or words that might suggest anger, hostility or a likeliness to strike back; (b) physically searching your victimizer’s car, desk and locker each time he reports to work; (c) physically searching your victimizer’s clothing and backpack or briefcase when he arrives to work; (d) giving your victimizer absolute warning that he is being closely observed and will be arrested if he engages in threatening words or actions; (e) installing metal detectors that your victimizer must pass through to get into the workplace; (f) hiring armed guards to patrol your victimizer’s area of work; (g) requiring your victimizer to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to assess future potential risk; (h) transferring your victimizer’s worksite to a different location or different department; and (i) even demanding that your employer immediately fire your victimizer.

When “demanding” these and similar steps be taken by your employer, you must be respectful, and it’s a good idea to remind them of their legal obligations in this regard under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act noted above.

8. Of course, the best way to communicate anything related to such claims, or related “legal steps,” is by email. Email is a wonderfully reliable and credible way to communicate anything that is important to you, and at the same time make a record of exactly what you expressed, to whom you expressed it, when you expressed it, and whether they received it or not. When emailing anything of this nature, it’s a good idea to “bcc” (that is, send a “blind copy”) to your home email address so that you have a copy of what you sent on your home computer.

9. Nothing is without risks of various kinds, including retaliation, but there is no greater risk than present risk to life and limb. I anticipate that you say to yourself, “But I might get my victimizer upset and angry if I take any of these steps.” I acknowledge the validity and reality of that fear, and the true possibility that it may be what takes place. That said, you could be harmed if you don’t take any steps above those you have already taken. Also, I am convinced that usually – though not always – victimizers are more likely to hurt others unless they are reminded that to do so might hurt themselves even more. There is always a risk that a victimizer might be enraged by what you may do, but there’s always a risk that the victimizer will not stop his or her victimizing unless you do what is necessary to stop them. Tough choice, no question, but one you must face at this time.

Bill, I hope this is some help to you. My prayers are with you. Good luck.

Best,
Al Sklover

P.S.: For those who have fear of workplace violence, we offer a Model Memo to Your Employer Insisting on Protection from Workplace Violence. It can help you get the protection you need. “What to Say and How to Say It.” To obtain a copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly! 

© 2012 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

“I resigned for fear of my boss; can I withdraw it?”

Published on February 3rd, 2011 by Alan L Sklover

Question: I have worked as a library assistant in a small county library for four years. Over recent years, five library assistants have resigned due to the violent behavior of our Manager.

The Manager flings books, telephones, staplers, etc., across the room, curses and screams when she is angry, and berates patrons and their children. Her appearance is frightening: extremely skinny, hair thinning, teeth gray, and the most agitated and hyperactive person I’ve ever seen. She looks just like someone on methamphetamines. Despite complaints from employees, patrons and others, the Head Librarian has done nothing. She just says “We all need to live together.”

Finally the County Administrator called a meeting with the Head Librarian, the library assistants and our Manager. Our Manager stormed out in a rage, claiming that she had bugs crawling all over her. The Head Librarian then showed us an email in which our Manager had said that, if she was ever forced to resign, she would “go out in a blaze of glory and punctuate her resignation with a shotgun.” At that moment, faced with having to work alongside our Manager, alone, for the rest of the five-hour shift, I resigned.

The next day the Head Librarian called me and asked me to come back. She explained that our Manager had been escorted out by the police, and ordered not to come back. Many patrons have called and written asking that I come back. I would like to come back, but the County Administrator refuses to let me do that, claiming that “The matter is over.” I wrote to the County Administrator, with copies to the Board of Supervisors, that the only reason I resigned was out of fear for my safety, but got no response.

Is there any way I can withdraw my resignation? I’d love to go back to my job.

Lydia
Gordonsville, Virginia

Answer: Dear Lydia: I am so very sorry to hear of your frightening experience at work, and the seeming unreasonableness of the County Administrator. Here are a few thoughts I have that might – and I hope will – be helpful:
 
a. As a public employee, you may have “special protections” – in civil service law or elsewhere – in this context. In many states and localities, public employees enjoy certain extra employment-related rights specified in law, including (a) a right to appeal employment-related decisions, (b) hearings before a judge on issues of claimed unfairness, and (c) multiple levels of reviews of decisions made about their employment. These “special protections” are based in the common understanding that being a public servant has special difficulties associated with it. As a county employee, you may have valuable rights of which you are unaware, and which could be of great use to you now.

b. As a public employee, politics – good and bad – can come into play at work. It is possible that the County Administrator is playing a game of “politics” with your job; for example, a friend of his or hers, or the child of a political contributor in your area, might need a job. It is also possible that the County Administrator would consider changing his or her mind if a petition signed by 500 people asking for your return was sent to the Board of Supervisors. Likewise, a newspaper article could pressure him or her to change course. I encourage you to consider contacting people, or reporters, to see if this is a way “back in” for you. 
 
c. You may have a legal right to “nullify” the step you took under such duress. In most states, people have a legal right to bring a claim into court that a step they have taken – such as paying money, signing an agreement, or making some legal commitment   should be declared “nullified” because it was taken under extreme duress or coercion. It sounds to me that working alongside someone who is communicating she might settle scores with a shotgun would qualify as “extreme duress” for resigning, in order to avoid potential death. 

d. You may also be able to raise the notion of a suit for “negligent supervision” or “negligent retention.” My quick review of Virginia law indicates that some Virginia courts, but not most, recognize legal claims called “negligent supervision” and “negligent retention.” The idea is this: your employer – the County, and most specifically the County Administrator – were negligent in their own duty to the public and their employees to take care of the obviously dangerous situation at your library, and for this reason are responsible for your job loss. Though it is admittedly “creative,” it just might be taken seriously if contained in a letter from a local lawyer.

e. I suggest you consider a consultation with a local attorney. To my mind, you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, from speaking with a local attorney who is experienced in “employee-side” employment law. At the very least, you would have someone with local experience give you a qualified opinion on your predicament, and even my ideas noted above. It’s not wise to always “run” to lawyers, but it is often wise to ask their opinions of difficult situations such as yours. 

If you would like to obtain a list of five experienced employment attorneys in Richmond, Virginia, near where you live, [click here].

It seems to me that what happened to you is so very unfair, and that with perseverance and creativity, there just has to be a solution. I hope these ideas lead you to the solution that best suits you. Please do not give up; we’re all behind you! 

Thanks for writing in. 

Best, Al Sklover

© 2011 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

“I experienced workplace violence, left early, and was suspended for it. Were my rights violated?”

Published on July 29th, 2010 by Alan L Sklover

Question: I was assaulted at work by another employee. I went directly to the General Manager and told him what was happening. Then I went to my direct Supervisor to let him know that I was leaving early (there were two hours remaining in the workday) because I was shaking, and to defuse the situation.

As soon as I got home, I contacted the police, and filed a police report.

I ended up being suspended without pay for the following workday because they said I left my job. The other person involved wasn’t sent home that day, and wasn’t suspended like I was. My managers have told me that they don’t want me to involve Human Resources, but I insisted.

Now I am waiting for a meeting with Human Resources, but I feel my Civil Rights were violated because I did nothing wrong but leave to defuse the situation. What are my rights?  

         Cliff 
         Surprise, Arizona

Answer: Cliff, from what you have written, it is hard to believe you would be suspended without pay.

The only reason I can think of for your being suspended is that, although you wrote that you told the General Manager and your direct Supervisor you were leaving, you did not write that they had granted you their permission for you to do so. In fact, from what you have written, it sounds like the General Manager and your direct Supervisor did not, in fact, grant you permission to go home. That can be a very serious offense at work, no matter what the circumstances.

I am not saying what you did was not right under the circumstances. In fact, I think I might have done exactly the same thing you did, if I were in “your shoes.” However, “managers” must “manage” people. When “managing” people and groups of people, the number one issue, above all others, is “control.” I don’t mean this in a negative sense, but in a practical sense. Managers are responsible for maintaining “control” of the workplace, for several different reasons, often ones you and I might not think of.

 Perhaps the General Manager and your direct Supervisor had to, by company policy, immediately debrief you to find out exactly what happened to cause the incident, but you had already left the office. That could cause a problem.

 Perhaps the General Manager and your direct Supervisor had to, by state law, have you sign a statement prepared by them at the time of the incident, but you had already gone home. That could cause a problem.

 Perhaps the General Manager and your direct Supervisor had to, due to insurance requirements, ask whether you had seen any weapons, but you had already left work. That could cause a problem. 

 Perhaps the General Manager and your direct Supervisor had to, because of federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) regulations, have a person of your gender examine you for any signs of physical injuries, but you had already left the premises. That could cause a problem.

 It’s just possible your assailant was not sent home, or suspended, because the General Manager and your direct Supervisor did not have a written, signed report from you, because you had already left work. Because you were no longer at your work premises, it is possible your violent assailant could not be fired, and therefore continues to pose a danger to others. That could be a real problem. 

I’m sure, by now, you get my point: managers have things to worry about that you might not be aware of, and being an employee means agreeing to “let managers manage.”  It’s Rule #1, or close to it. 

You were smart to file a police report. You were smart to bring the matter to Human Resources; I hope you described the incident to Human Resources by way of email, because that would make a great permanent record. But leaving the workplace premises without prior permission – unless you really believed you were in real danger of imminent bodily harm, or critically needed to see a doctor – was not the best thing to do. You have many rights in the workplace, but they all depend first on your fulfilling your responsibilities to your employer, and it managers. And “letting managers manage” is one of them.

If you have an injury, you have a right under Arizona law to file a Workers’ Compensation claim for any medical costs and any lost income. You might even have a right to sue your assailant for any injuries. But your “rights” against your employer are slim to none, if you did not first observe that important “rule”: “Let managers manage.” If what happened to you happens again, consider staying put, insist on calling the police from your workplace, insist on being protected. But don’t leave without permission.

This may not be exactly what you wanted, or expected, to read. Nonetheless, I do hope it is valuable, helpful, and something you will keep in mind.

Thanks for writing in!! Hope you’ll tell others about our Blog.

           Best, Al Sklover

©  2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.


Alan L. Sklover

Alan L. Sklover

Employment Attorney
and Career Strategist
for over 35 years

Job Security and Career Success now depend on knowing how to navigate and negotiate to gain the most for your skills, time and efforts. Learn the trade secrets and 'uncommon common sense' of Attorney Alan L. Sklover, the leading authority on "Negotiating for Yourself at Work™".

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