My employer and I got into an argument because he accused me and another employee of being nonproductive. At the end of the day, he called me into the office and asked me why do I follow behind people etc…. He was acting unlike himself. I said if you don’t like the way I work fire me he said OK your fired don’t return tomorrow. I said OK he then followed me calling me back into the office saying I’m a good employee, but he is going to be cracking down on everybody. I walked out he pushed me I screamed and cried. He said I pushed you out of love to make you better. He said I can keep my job or sue if I think I’ll get anything out of it.
I got this email and responded:
I don’t know what you want me to say. Both of you were being stupid. There’s nothing to sue for. If he really pushed you, you could file assault charges, but since no damages occurred, there’s no civil lawsuit.
The author responded:
I was being stupid for working my butt off for a company then being assaulted. Charges were found thanks for your advice you get pushed by a male employer and get called stupid. You’re hilarious. Thanks!!!!!
Good for filing assault charges, but yes, you were being stupid. You don’t say, “If you don’t like the way I work fire me.” That’s a really dumb thing to say if you don’t want to be fired.
Well, that requires a response and I thought I’d share here. I admit, my original answer was not warm and fuzzy and was not heavy on details. But, when you have a screaming argument with the boss where you dare him to fire you, and you get shoved, the relationship is finished. It’s not something that’s going to be easily fixed. I’m actually thrilled that the letter writer called the police about the pushing because physical violence doesn’t belong in the office (or anywhere). But, other than the assault charges, it doesn’t appear to me to be any employment related law problem. You said, “if you don’t like the way I work fire me” and the boss did.
I blame television. We see shows where there’s a rogue person (often a cop) who is always causing problems and the boss always gets angry, but in the end, this rogue employee captures the bad guy or lands the client or whatever and everybody is thrilled. It’s like the adult version of Curious George. (Oh, George! You’ve done this horrible thing, but you made little Sally smile! We love you George!) But, real life doesn’t work that way. Once threats are made, the relationship has been damaged, and most likely permanently.
Now, this boss is a world class jerk. Pushing someone to “make them better” is a horrible thing to do. You don’t accuse someone of poor performance in order to increase their performance, when they were doing great to begin with. People don’t respond well to this (see above). You reward and encourage your top performers. You don’t yell and scream.
If you’re in that situation, you need to remain calm and ask what it is that you need to improve on. If it’s the boss’s latest “trick” to push you, it will fall apart at that point. If you actually need to improve, listening will help you. Screaming back will not help you.
Now, some people will say that you should go to HR or to the Boss’s boss when something like this happens rather than call the police. From a business standpoint, that makes sense, because the business would love to protect its reputation. And no matter what type of business you do, having police cars show up to a reported assault is not good for business and might even get picked up by the local paper. So, the big boss and HR would love to deal with office violence internally. I, on the other hand, think that someone who assaults someone else doesn’t deserve any respect or deference to help the business. Call the police immediately.
That said, if it’s a mild shove (which I am guessing this was, since the letter writer didn’t describe anything horrible). it may not rise to the level of assault (remember, I’m not an attorney, nor do I play one on the internet), and shouldn’t be brought to the attention of the police. I wasn’t there, so I can’t judge. The letter writer indicates that charges were filed, so it may have been a serious shove.
But, the big takeaway here? When your boss is being stupid, don’t be stupid back. It only makes things worse. And that bit of advice is why people write me.