As a teacher, what are my rights regarding a threat made to me by a student?

After giving a student a discipline referral, he threatened to return to the school with a gun and shoot me. Before being escorted out of class, he punched me in the face. He was then suspended and I was told when he returned he would be transferred out of all my classes. Today he returned but was in my class. I left and told my principal that the safety of my workplace was compromised and that I would return after a week as to ensure I would feel comfortable in the work place. My principal denied my leave. Is that legal?

Asked on October 20, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it is legal no employee has the right to unilaterally on his or her own decide when work is too dangerous and that he/she will take leave. Employees simply can't decide when to not go into work. Obviously, if you feel threatened, you can stay home from work--but then have to take the consequences for an unexcused absence e.g. discipline, suspension, possibly termination. 
However, you can also report this student to the police--report the threat and press charges for the assault punching you. That is your right your employer cannot deprive you of the protection of the criminal law or your right to report crimes and threatened crimes.

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