What To Do If Threatened at Work: A Complete Guide

Dealing with threats in the workplace can be scary and stressful When tensions escalate to warnings of violence, it’s crucial to respond appropriately. Here is a comprehensive guide on what to do if threatened at work and how to protect yourself

Recognizing Credible Threats

The first step is evaluating the seriousness of the threat Some key indicators it warrants immediate action include

  • Explicitly violent statements – Comments specifically mentioning intent to harm you or your property, even veiled threats like “You better watch your back.” Take them seriously.

  • Access to weapons – The capacity of the person to follow through, such as if they own guns or keep weapons at work. This amplifies the risks.

  • Prior signs of violence – Evidence the person has acted violently before, like past assault charges or incidents of physical intimidation.

  • Escalating behavior – Previously nonviolent situations progressively intensifying to threats, like harassment complaints ignored by management.

  • Specific plans – Precise details given about how, when and where violence will occur. Detailed plots indicate serious premeditation.

When threats include these types of warning signs, consider the situation dangerous and act quickly. Never downplay it or wait to see if they follow through.

Documenting Evidence

Before acting, carefully document the threatening incident(s) to support your case. Helpful evidence includes:

  • Recording threats – Audio or video recording threatening remarks if it can be done safely and legally.

  • Written communications – Saving emails, texts, social media posts, or handwritten notes containing threats.

  • Physical evidence – Photographing vandalism, injuries or weapons related to the threats if you have safe access.

  • Eyewitnesses – Getting brief written statements from anyone who observed the threats firsthand.

  • Reporting history – Compiling any previous reports you submitted regarding the individual’s behavior.

  • Your own notes – Writing down all details you recall like dates, times, exactly what they said, and your safety concerns.

Verbal threats alone are harder to act on, so documentation provides critical substantiation of the danger you face.

Reporting Threats to Employers

In most cases, the first step is reporting threats directly to your employer, owner, human resources department, or supervisor immediately. Provide documentation and explain your fear for personal safety. Ask that prompt action be taken to protect you and resolve the threats.

Some key tips for effective reporting:

  • Follow procedures – Use proper reporting channels and forms if they exist. Otherwise go direct to HR or senior management.

  • Be specific – Include all relevant details like dates, times, names, exact threats, prior issues with individual, who witnessed it, etc.

  • Remain objective – Stick only to factual events and documentation without emotional pleas or subjective commentary.

  • Follow up – Submit request in writing in addition to verbal report. Check regularly on investigation status.

  • Consult legal counsel – If not adequately addressed by employer, contact an employment lawyer to understand your rights.

While employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment, hold them accountable by reporting thoroughly and following procedures.

Escalation Options If Employers Fail to Act

If your employer does not take appropriate, timely action to resolve threats at work, you may need to escalate using the following avenues:

  • Law enforcement – File a police report about violent threats, especially if crimes like assault or vandalism were involved. Ask about a restraining order.

  • Government agencies – Report unresolved threats to Occupational Safety and Health Administration or your state’s labor board for investigation.

  • Legal action – An employment law attorney can help you file lawsuits for negligence, retaliation or other violations as warranted.

  • Union – If you belong to a union, file a grievance regarding the employer’s failure to protect you from threats.

  • External parties – In extreme cases, inform an impartial external party like the media or law enforcement about persistent threats the company ignored.

Exhaust internal options first, but do not hesitate to escalate further if your safety concerns remain unaddressed. Employers who fail to prevent threats may face fines, lawsuits and criminal charges for endangering employees.

Interim Safety Precautions

While resolving the situation long-term, you may need to take proactive precautions to protect yourself:

  • Avoid being alone with the threatening individual
  • Alter your commute and parking arrangements
  • Limit sharing personal information publicly
  • Temporarily relocate your workspace area
  • Request a different shift or remote work arrangement
  • Have a coworker escort you to your vehicle after hours
  • Obtain pepper spray and keep your cell phone handy

Take whichever precautions you reasonably feel are warranted for your personal safety based on the severity of the threats. Don’t take chances.

When to Involve Law Enforcement Immediately

In extreme cases where threats mention weapons, specific acts of violence, or appear highly credible based on the individual’s history, go directly to the police rather than your employer first.

Examples include threats to:

  • Physically assault you
  • Use weapons against you
  • Sexually attack you
  • Follow you home from work and harm you
  • Burglarize your home
  • Damage your vehicle or other property

When threats imply imminent danger that your employer cannot realistically prevent in time, law enforcement intervention may be critical. Emphasize the urgency of the situation.

Handling Threats Professionally

While dealing with scary threats at work, try to remain professional in your interactions and response. Remember:

  • Stay calm – As difficult as it is, avoid emotional outbursts or reactions that could exacerbate the situation.

  • Be discreet – Do not gossip or complain to coworkers about the threats. Keep discussions strictly confidential.

  • Maintain job performance – Don’t let the stresses impact your work quality. Stick to duties as normal.

  • Communicate objectively – Provide only factual documentation of threats without subjective judgments or assumptions.

  • Follow procedures – Use proper reporting channels and give the company opportunity to respond before escalating externally.

  • Consult an attorney – Have experienced legal counsel review your case if employers mishandle it.

While scary and frustrating, approach the situation pragmatically and by the book. Your professionalism will strengthen your position significantly if legal action becomes necessary.

When to Consider Resigning

If all internal and external reporting options fail to resolve serious, credible threats at work, you may need to consider resigning from the position for your own safety.

This should be a last resort, but may be advisable if:

  • Threatening coworkers remain in close proximity despite complaints
  • Employers refuse any attempt to relocate or remove the dangerous individual
  • The work environment feels fundamentally unsafe
  • The threats and stress are taking too severe a mental toll

No job is worth compromising your personal safety. While frustrating to leave a job under duress, you may need to put well-being first. Consult a lawyer to ensure proper cause for resigning if you feel resigning is your only recourse.

Recourse If You’re Terminated

Retaliation in response to reporting threats is illegal. Employers cannot fire you for coming forward in good faith. If you are terminated or disciplined after reporting a coworker’s threats:

  • Consult an attorney immediately about wrongful termination
  • File a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Note any evidence suggesting retaliation for your reports
  • Review your employee handbook for relevant policies

With evidence and legal backing, you can take formal action for wrongful firing related to the threats. This is illegal retaliation.

When Threats Lead to Violence

In the worst cases, threats may lead to physical altercations, assaults or other acts of violence by the threatening individual.

If you are ever attacked at work by someone who previously threatened you:

  • Call 911 immediately
  • Cooperate fully with the police investigation
  • Seek any necessary medical treatment
  • Document everything that occurred
  • Hire an attorney to pursue legal action against the employer

No company can avoid liability if they ignored clear warning signs that led to employees being harmed. Threatened or attacked employees have solid legal grounds to hold employers accountable.

Key Takeaways

  • Take every threat seriously and document evidence
  • Report threats promptly using proper channels
  • In extreme cases go directly to police first
  • Implement precautions like avoiding the individual
  • Follow up repeatedly if employers fail to act
  • Consider resigning only as a last resort if still unsafe
  • Retaliation for reporting threats is illegal

Staying vigilant, professional and proactive can help protect your rights and safety if threatened at work. Prioritize your well-being using all resources available.

what to do if threatened at work

What to do when threatened at work, Part 1

What should I do if I feel threatened at work?

Here are some steps you can take if you encounter a situation where you feel threatened at work: When you encounter a potentially threatening situation in the workplace, spend time evaluating the situation before taking action. Think about the behaviors you’ve experienced from the other person and try to define the type of threat you felt.

What can one do to get someone to get help when they refuse to acknowledge they have a problem?

Mental health issues are best sorted by a proper and effective counseling session. When someone feels that they are completely alright and others say the opposite, he/she should seek the help of a counsellor. A professionalised personal in these kind of scenarios like that of a counsellor can help them the most.

What should I do if my employer threatens me?

Some can be contained simply by confronting the offender directly when it happens. When it goes beyond that, you’ll need to report it to your employer. If you’re threatened in response to a complaint to your employer about clearly unacceptable or illegal behavior, you’ll need to consult an attorney.

How do you deal with a threatened person?

Luiz advises: “It takes work to put someone at ease who is threatened by you, and it requires both compassion and inauthenticity since you can’t really be yourself with the person (after all, the person is not really seeing you for the totality of who you are, and is pushing you away whether they do so with the fight or flight).

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