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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » problem at work

   
Author Topic: problem at work
RivalOfTheRose
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(names and exact language hidden/paraphrased to protect any legal proceedings)

Coworker A (supervisor, my friend)
Coworker B (the guy in question)
Coworker C (random dude)

hypothetical situation:

1. Coworker A notices weird email title over coworker B's shoulder.

2. This is a company email, not personal or private.

3. After coworker B leaves cubicle, coworker A opens up deleted message folder and reads email.

4. Email is about me, from coworker B to coworker C. It reads something along the lines of:

"I really want to take a big stone and smash it all over RivaloftheRose's face until it looks like chopmeat and drive over his body until its a waffle!"

5. I took a phone picture of the email as evidence.

6. Coworker A informs company president

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do I have any legal recourse against Coworker B?
How legal was obtaining photo of said email?

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Heisenberg
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There are ways of talking about your frustration with someone that don't involve literal threats. If I said that I wanted to kill someone, I wouldn't necessarily be threatening murder.

Depends on the context. If it was a literal plan to kill you, of course you have legal recourse. If it's just a matter of some meanie head saying mean things and your feelings being hurt, then I don't think that you do.

It being a company email, I would be very surprised if there was legal penalty for reading the email. Ethically, I personally can't say that I care for the practice at all.

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Samprimary
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the email itself could get them fired pretty easily especially if another person saw them writing it

so

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Heisenberg
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That's true. If these two had issues with Rival, they were a couple of dumbasses for using company email instead of personal or text messages like normal people.

All I'm saying is that I don't think there is a basis for legal action.

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Dogbreath
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quote:
Originally posted by RivalOfTheRose:
(names and exact language hidden/paraphrased to protect any legal proceedings)

Coworker A (supervisor, my friend)
Coworker B (the guy in question)
Coworker C (random dude)

hypothetical situation:

1. Coworker A notices weird email title over coworker B's shoulder.

2. This is a company email, not personal or private.

3. After coworker B leaves cubicle, coworker A opens up deleted message folder and reads email.

4. Email is about me, from coworker B to coworker C. It reads something along the lines of:

"I really want to take a big stone and smash it all over RivaloftheRose's face until it looks like chopmeat and drive over his body until its a waffle!"

5. I took a phone picture of the email as evidence.

6. Coworker A informs company president

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do I have any legal recourse against Coworker B?
How legal was obtaining photo of said email?

Okay, first and foremost, my number one piece of advice here is to hire a lawyer and discuss the situation with them before proceeding. I'm not a legal expert, and situations and laws differ from state to state as far as what is and isn't legal as far your photo goes. I don't want to give you any advice that could lead to you being sued by your company.

That being said...

1) If it was sent on work e-mail as you said, then I can almost guarantee that coworkers B and C have no legal right to privacy with those e-mails. Just about every company has their employees sign their consent to be monitored form when they gain access to a company's e-mail account or intranet. That's so the company can monitor what their employees are doing on their work computers and read their e-mails.

I happen to know this because I'm one of those people who monitor what employees are doing on their work computers and read their e-mails. I do this as part of a network security job, not to get people in trouble, but there are some things that, if I see them, I'm actually legally obligated to report them to law enforcement. What you described - someone threatening your life - is absolutely one of them.

Which leads me to:

2) You absolutely have the right to report the threat to your life to the police, and this is something you should do right away. You shouldn't mention the photograph at all until you've discussed that with a lawyer, but yes, absolutely tell the police it happened, and let them know coworker A saw it was well and can corroborate your story.

This is important:

3) The photo is most likely unnecessary. Once you report this to the police, they will most likely seize your company's e-mail server as evidence. It doesn't matter whether employees B and C deleted it or not.

4) If employee B isn't immediately fired, file a lawsuit against your employer for a hostile work environment. You shouldn't even feel remotely bad or hesitant about doing so.

I realize it's often easy to attempt to downplay or trivialize things like this when they happen to you as a sort of coping mechanism, so I want to reiterate again: employee B made a threat against your life. There's no telling how serious he was, but anyone who does something like that is at least somewhat unstable, and is absolutely creating a hostile work environment. You absolutely can and *should* report this to the police. A lot of mass shootings - especially in workplaces - have been preceded by hostile, violent fantasies like this that have gone ignored or unreported, and I really, really can't stress how serious it is that you don't ignore it.

Finally, you absolutely have the right not to be treated this way, and employee B absolutely needs to be fired. For both of your sakes, but mostly yours. There is no way in hell you should have to work with someone who has openly discussed planning to murder you, and again, you should feel no compunction at all about contacting the police about this.

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scifibum
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There could be policy or legal implications to A reading B's email depending on what machine or login credentials were involved in doing so. The employer may be allowed to do it, but this doesn't [automatically] mean that A can use B's computer while B is logged in.

Definitely talk to a lawyer.

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NobleHunter
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scifibum, I had that thought too but if their IT policy is well-written the fact that A is a supervisor should cover it.
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Stone_Wolf_
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Since your supervisor reported it...do nothing...yet.

Once you send a complaint up proper channels there is no better way to piss off the people who are about to help you as being impatient & involving out side authorities.

You can get them involved -after- the internal process has concluded.

Also...do not mention the pic...it might muddy the waters...just quietly sit on it for "insurance".

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RivalOfTheRose
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Thanks for the help everyone. In no particular order:

Haven't mentioned the pic to anyone. Opted not to file a police report just yet. Talked to a lawyer, they said to give it a week to see what happens within the company.

As of so far, the employees station moved to somewhere else on the floor, and he received a talking-to by the company president. The department consists of only 4 employees, where I am third on the totem pole and Worker B is on rung 4. The fact that it is a small company doesn't really help things be less awkward.

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