The Joel on Software Discussion Group (CLOSED)

A place to discuss Joel on Software. Now closed.

This community works best when people use their real names. Please register for a free account.

Other Groups:
Joel on Software
Business of Software
Design of Software (CLOSED)
.NET Questions (CLOSED)
Fog Creek Copilot

The Old Forum

Your hosts:
Albert D. Kallal
Li-Fan Chen
Stephen Jones

Worker rights (non-union)

Hey all,

I'm wondering if it's illegal for an employer to threaten to fire an employee as a form of intimidation (with no real case or want to fire)?

I tried to find legal information saying that such actions are illegal, but all that I can find that states such is union related. I believe I've read that this right apply to non-union workers as well, but I cannot find documentation.

Let me know if I am correct and please include any links that support this claim.

Thanks in advance
none Send private email
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Those laws vary by state.

Consult an attorney if you are concerned. The EEOC might also be of help.
I am Jack's ...
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
I would imagine that it isn't really illegal. Certainly no more than, say, you threatening to quit. Send private email
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
From what little knowledge of law I have, it's not illegal. However, I would consult a lawyer first as it may be illegal in your area.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
It would (I think) be illegal if they were actually to fire the employee, at least in the UK. That would come under 'unfair dismissal' and the employee would be entitled to take the employer to a tribunal, and most likely would receive compensation.
James U-S Send private email
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
You might have a case for harressment, or constructive dismissal on the grounds of a hostile working environment. I think it very much depends on a) where you are working and b) the exact circumstances.
Mr Jack
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
I once worked for a rather famous company. During my time there I was once told that I would be less likely to be fired if I did one week of extra primary on-call work that was originally assigned to a new hire.

I did the work. I still lost my job a month later.

I don't think there is a direct connection but the manager that fired me was demoted shortly after I left the company. A few months later I heard the director of HR was changed as well.
Savage Send private email
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
I live and work in the state of North Dakota, USA and North Dakota is an "Employment at Will" state. Your boss can decide to fire the first person they see in the morning and it is perfectly legal.

The problem is: Do you want to work for a manager who uses that as a management tool?

I've seen the management at the company I work for try to use intimidation like that to manage people. I don't fall for it and I wouldn't put up with it if they tried it directly on me. So far they haven't.

There are days though when I wish they would. I would enjoy the confrontation.
Steven T Cameron Send private email
Wednesday, October 27, 2004

I would think it really depends on what you mean by intimidation.  Do your job or your fired? Well duh.  Give me sex or your fired?  Get that on tape and you will never have to work again for the rest of your life.  What is it that you find intimidating?
Steamrolla Send private email
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Willful employment is something many states have.  Basically it says you can get terminated for no reason.  Of course some employers like to have reasons on hand.

If you are fired and you can provide some type of legal proof that it was due to something bogus (your race, beliefs, etc) then the employer has a major problem.  So normally if there is something like that, the employer is extra careful.

I once had a guy working for me who was a very poor performer.  I would make simple requests to help accomidate him to work better (i.e. at least work between the hours of 9am - 3pm).  Some days he'd work 5 hours and just leave. 

When I announced my plan to fire him to HR, they grew concerned.  The reason - he is Jewish and was using that as reasons why he was leaving early.  I countered that I had no problem with him leaving early if he compensated the time in some other way, eventually he was let go.  He later threatened to sue because on grounds of discrimination and got a sweater compensation package and his status changed to "laid off" instead of "terminated".

Bottom line, if the threats involve only people of a certain race/religion/etc you've got legal grounds.  Consult an attorney as (s)he will have advice on what legal evidence you should start collecting to make a solid case.  If it's a general threat to everyone, that is legal.  I'd question the value of that employer at that point.. you are better off finding another job if you can.  No job is worth that much stress.
Andy Send private email
Wednesday, October 27, 2004

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz