When Should You Report A Co-Worker As A Threat?

Some months ago we looked at a case where a guy from Speco who got a home visit from a terrorism task force because he had Googled backpacks and pressure cookers on a work computer. Now the Supreme Court has ruled on a somewhat similar case of turning in an employee.

A pilot failed his flight test and was upset about it. The case says he "responded angrily to this failure—raising his voice, tossing his headset, using profanity, and accusing the instructor of 'railroading the situation.'" Management reported him to TSA as a threat to airline safety. Becuase the pilot was authorized to carry a weapon on the plane, when reporting him to TSA management said "an unstable pilot in the FFDO program was terminated today" and he "may be armed” and they were “concerned about his mental stability and the whereabouts of his firearm." He was fired the next day.

He sued and won. But today the Supreme Court reversed it, agreeing with the airline that the reports about the man were more true than false and saying that organizations should be protected when they report potential threats. The pilot says it was retaliation, and they wanted him gone.

When working in fields that deal with airlines or chemical facilities or protecting critical infrastructure or any high stress job, when would you report someone to the authorities? Would you feel comfortable reporting someone who Googled questionable terms knowing it could ruin their career? Would you call a co-worker a threat for being disgruntled about failing a certification test?

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