Do employer retaliation laws extend to physical self-defense?

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2014 | Employer Retaliation |

In the broadest sense, if you work for a private company, you can be fired for whatever reason at any time. As an employee, you can also quit at any time for whatever reason. That’s what’s called “employment at will.” However, there are exceptions. First, if your contract says otherwise, you are bound by that. Second, you cannot be fired for your religion, sex or race. In addition, employer retaliation protection extends to some forms of speech and political affiliation, protecting you from being fired for being a Democrat, Republican or otherwise.

Often, work environments can become hostile. You and your boss don’t see eye to eye or you and a co-worker have issues with one another. Sometimes this hostility can turn physical. So, imagine you are attacked physically by a supervisor or fellow employee and you defend yourself. Because you got into a physical altercation at work, you were fired.

In this situation, do you have any recourse to claim employer retaliation? Well, it’s a bit of a legal gray area. In one recent ruling, the courts said that, while an employee could use self-defense on the job if they were scared for their lives, it would help them in any criminal case that might arise. As far as a lawsuit that employee would be out of luck.

However, other rulings have disagreed with that assessment. One such ruling says that our right to self-defense as citizens does not stop when we leave the confines of our homes. Instead, if we fear lethal injury, we should be allowed to defend ourselves, regardless of location.

With such ambiguity regarding these types of cases, contacting an Indiana attorney may be the best course of action.

Source:, “May employer fire employee based on employee’s reasonable on-the-job armed self-defense?,” Eugene Volokh, June 2, 2014


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