Is there anything I can do if I was fired for responding to a threat with a threat?

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Is there anything I can do if I was fired for responding to a threat with a threat?

I entered work antagonized by another employee with numerous expletives. I exercised patience and didn’t respond. Once I clocked in to work I immediately went to hosting. I encountered the employee again with the same foul language. I respond, ” As long as I am here doing my job that is all that matters”. The employee responded with a threat, o shut up before the beat me. I responded, “You shut the F up before I beat your @ss.” I was then fired.

Asked on June 22, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Did you have an employment contract? (Including a union contract applying to your position.) If you did, the terms of that contract relating to firing, etc. must be followed, and you can only be fired in conformity with the contract.

On the other hand, if you did not have a contract, you were an employee at will, and as an employee at will, you may be fired at any time, for any reason, even "unfairly"--i.e. you could be fired for making a threat even if the other person threatened you, too, and was not fired. The only exception would be if you believe that the way you were treated represented discrimination against you on the basis of protected category: e.g. you think you were discriminated against because of your race, sex, religion, age over 40, or disability. If that's the case, you may have an employment discrimination claim.


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