Is threatening an employee grounds for termination?

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Is threatening an employee grounds for termination?

A supervisor indirectly threatened a pregnant employee’s life by saying to someone, “How much trouble could I get in for killing a pregnant woman?”

Asked on May 19, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Oddly enough, threatening an employee does not require that an employer terminate a supervisor--though  certainly, it would constitute grounds for termination for cause if the employer wanted to terminate this person. Also, if that supervisor did not have a contract, he or she would be an employee at will and could be terminated by the employer at essentially any time, for any reason. So the answer is, the employer should be able to terminate this supervisor, if they choose to, but they are not required or obligated under the law to do so. However, it would certainly be prudent for  the employer to investigate the claim, and, if the claim of the threat is substantiated, terminate the person--if they do not, and she or he causes injury, the employer could find itself liable. Also, threatening a pregnant woman could implicate anti-discrimination/anti-harassment laws, again providing liability against the employer.


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