Legal Question in Employment Law in Tennessee

Safe Work Environment

I am a newspaper carrier (independent contractor) and am required to pick up my papers at a distribution center. I am being harrassed and threatened by another carrier. Management is aware of the situation and has done nothing to prevent it continuing. In fact, I have been told to ignore it. Death threats scare me, even though I think it is mostly just talk. As an independent contractor, am I guaranteed a safe work environment and do I have any recourse against the company for ignoring this? It has been going on intensely for a year, but started about four years ago. I have had two death threats this week and management is aware of both of them. In addition, there has been intense sexual allegations. Also, I have received e-mails that were sent to a former supervisor and forwarded to me which I turned over to management. Please, what options do I have?

Asked on 10/01/04, 2:41 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Dr. Michael A. S. Guth Tennessee Attorney at Law Assists Pro Se (without a lawyer) Parties

Re: Safe Work Environment

Your best option here is find new employment. You can sue the person harrassing you, and ask a Chancery Court to issue an injunction against him. You can sue him individually or sue him jointly with your the newspaper.

While employers have a duty to provide a safe work envirnment for their employees, they have very little duties owed to independent contractors. Essentially, this is a private feud between you and the other carrier. That feud could go on independent of the newspaper business.

I don't know if this is a jilted ex-lover situation or why there would be intense sexual allegations, but it sounds like you are being defamed either with the spoken word (slander) or the written word (libel).

You can sue the guy for damages, but you will have to show how you incurred damages. If it is just fear, the courts are somewhat skeptical about putting a dollar figure on the fear.

If you think your life is truly in jeopardy, then you absolutely must report the death threats to the police and obtain a court order barring him from contacting you further. Without that court order, the police will not go talk to him or actively get involved in a domestic verbal abuse war.

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Answered on 10/02/04, 12:42 pm

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