With working conditions consistently changing, there are some employees that have taken the flexibility given to them for granted.
There are also instances where some people in management don’t know how to deal with employees. When they are frustrated, instead of speaking to the employee to find solutions to whatever is bothering them, they threaten to fire them.
What should an employee do with an employer’s threat of termination?
This is not an uncommon situation. An employer’s threat of termination can occur for many reasons, including the manager not having enough professional development training in dealing with employees, the manager or owner being prejudiced against the employee, management having discriminatory practices, and more.
While some employers don’t know that employees have rights that protect them, it is always best to know what an employer can and can’t do in terms of fair work conditions.
Dealing with your employer’s threat of termination
If your employer is threatening to terminate you, there are some proactive steps you can take to find out what the problem is. In many cases, it may have nothing to do with you, but it’s always best to take the lead to protect yourself. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Have a conversation with your manager
Scheduling a meeting with your manager shows you care about their threats and want to resolve any underlying issues. This is also a record for you to demonstrate you took the initiative in wanting to meet with them.
If you request a meeting with your manager and they decline, you have the right to escalate the situation to human resources.
2. Clarify your role and responsibilities
With so many changing dynamics in the workplace, it is easy for a manager to become overwhelmed and forget the scope of certain roles.
There are times when employees have either filled in for another employee or done the work of a position that was open for a while.
In these instances, if the employee demonstrates they can handle the workload, the manager may assume the employee can continue doing the extra work without a conversation or increase in pay.
If this is the case, when the employee stops doing the extra work, the manager is upset, even though they attempted to change the scope of the role the employee was originally hired for without having a discussion.
3. Consider why the employer is upset with you
Has something changed in your behavior on the job?
While an employer’s threat of termination may be par for the course, it’s always a good thing to do a little self-reflection to see if there are areas of improvement needed.
If you have been doing your job and don’t have any outside issues interfering with your performance, it may be time to start documenting when these threats are made and the situations at the time to fully assess what may be going on.
4. Consider your alternatives
If you have an unruly and offensive manager, it may be a good idea to seek another department to work in. That will get you out of the toxic environment and into a role that is better suited within the company. Another department that capitalizes on your strengths may be a good fit for you.
People often get stuck in a rut over time if they are in one position too long. It is easy to start neglecting the job, but you may not see it because you have done it for so long.
Another alternative could be getting professional development. If there are areas of the job you don’t understand, do not hesitate to ask for training. This is the only way you will progress and gain the skills needed to effectively do your job.
If you are confused and can’t keep up with your workload because you don’t understand parts of your tasks, seek help.
There are times when you outgrow a job or the company. If you are unhappy at a job and feel as if you have no incentive to stay, it may be time to pursue something else better suited to bringing you happiness.
There are many people in jobs that have left them unfulfilled for several years, but they stay and deal with their employer’s threat of termination because they have become complacent.
Taking matters into your own hands is the key to ensuring you are mentally healthy and happy at work and at home. Dealing with an employer’s threat of termination on a continuous basis creates stress, unrest, and unhappiness. No one should be subjected to this kind of behavior.
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5. Go to human resources
The human resources department is designed to deal with situations like this in a fair and unbiased manner. This department has certain federal, state, and local guidelines they must follow as it relates to employees.
If your human resources department does nothing to stop the harassment, you can escalate the issue further up the chain of command.
No company wants to be at the center of a discriminatory workplace violence lawsuit, so their first instinct will be to put together an investigation and plan of action.
6. Understand your rights
While employers feel as if they are holding all the cards, it should be known that you have rights as an employee too.
An employer could have several reasons why they are being so hard on you. They may have unresolved feelings and cannot control their emotions, or something else.
Depending on whether you have a labor union, or you must work with human resources, always know your rights.
If the situation is really getting out of hand, you may also want to go speak to a labor attorney who can properly advise you on the next steps.
Moving forward under duress
If you are going through a situation where you are constantly being threatened, you may have a case for having to work under duress.
There are cases where employees have been subjected to an employer’s threat of termination that resulted in them filing a case against the company.
In certain states, it is against the law for any employer to continuously threaten their employees. In fact, in Texas, duress constitutes a threat without legal justification; the threat was of such a character as to destroy the other party’s free agency, and the threat or action overcame the opposing party’s free will and caused it to do that which would have not otherwise have done or was legally bound; the restraint was imminent, and the opposing party (the employee) had no present means of protection.
Cases that can be proven where the employee is under duress grant them injunctive relief and other concessions. There are some employers who choose to retaliate against the employee once a complaint has been filed, but this is also against the law.
There are cases of employees in a right-to-work state that have been fired once a complaint has been filed. In these cases, it may be best to consult an employment attorney, because again, retaliation after the fact can constitute malice, regardless of the right-to-work clause.
Check your employment contract
Before seeking legal help, it is a good idea to look at the employee handbook that should outline the steps to take if you feel mistreated, harassed, or threatened in any way.
Although the employer may not mean their threats of termination, it’s always a good idea to know if there are any clauses in the contract that will allow them to fire you without cause.
If there is a just cause clause in the handbook, the employer may be liable for damages if they fire you without cause. If you do not understand the jargon in the handbook, have it reviewed by an attorney.
An employer that consistently threatens you is not a good situation to be in. This is called workplace violence and is often ignored or unaddressed.
Workplace violence is disrespectful and should be reported immediately. If you are being harassed with consistent threats of termination, do what you need to do and protect yourself.
This causes mental damage and lessens the morale of the workplace. While co-workers may notice what is happening and not say anything, they are quietly observing the outcome just in case they encounter the same situation later down the line.
You do not have to subject yourself to mistreatment. These tips and suggestions on how to deal with an employer’s threat of termination should point you in the right direction.
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Founder of Eggcellentwork.com. With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.