Is retaliation limited to termination and/or discrimination?

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Is retaliation limited to termination and/or discrimination?

I’m leaving my job and gave the contractually required 30 days notice. My boss asked me to stay a few week more than the required 30 days and when I refused, she sent me an email stating that, “It’s not wise to burn the bridges behind you”. I of course feel threatened. Can I do anything with this email? Is it legal for her to say that?

Asked on July 14, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Your boss did nothing illegal. A person may offer advice--which charitably, that is; it is good advice to not leave hard feelings behind you when possible--and may even "threaten" someone with anything not itself illegal. That is, a boss may threaten to tell people to not hire an employee, or threaten to not recommend a person, or to never rehire that person, etc. The boss can't threaten with violence, because that is specifically against the law; nor can the boss defame the person, which means no publically making false factual statements (e.g. saying that you stole, when you in fact did not) about the person, which damage her reputation. (Though in that regard, note that opinions are not defamation--it's ok to say "she's the worst person I ever worked with," since that is an opinion.) But apart from threats or statements which themselves are actionable, a boss may make statements that you personally find threatening, and it is not illegal to do that.


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