Workplace Team Leader Violent When Drunk


Feb 25, 2013
Let me preface this by saying my team leader has never, to my knowledge, turned up drunk to work.

Apologies, as this may be a long read, I'm trying to give the full story as accurately as possible. I debated not posting this, but it's eating me up and I'd really like to know what you would do in my situation. Thanks to all who read and reply.

All names have been changed.

I work in a very small team of 9 people, we know each other very well and get along great.
Last Friday was our department manager's (Brenda) last day as she accepted a new position elsewhere. We organised a night out for our department, plus a few honorary members of the team, including Brenda's manager.

Now, last time our team leader (Steve) was out drinking with another member of our team (Charles) they stayed out late and Steve, at some point in the night after Charles had left, hurt his jaw - presumed broken - and has no idea how this happened. We assumed he'd fallen down. This has been a standing joke in our office ever since.

We started at the local pub at 4:30 and then moved on to a restaurant at 6:30. I was seated next to Steve at the restaurant. Brenda joked about who would look after Steve in case he "broke" his jaw again, and I volunteered. I wasn't planning to get drunk, so it would't be too difficult for me to prop him up.

Fast forward to about 11:30 and the herd has thinned considerably so that only 3 members of our department are left: Me, Steve and Charles, and the remaining 4 honorary members, one of which we'll call Dan, and including Brenda's manager.

At this point I'm sitting in-between Charles and Steve. Steve then turns to me and starts saying that "Dan can't play football", that "he kicks like a sheep" and that "he's a sleaze ball" for hugging someone who's not his wife. Steve then looks at Charles and says to me that Charles "isn't as cool as he thinks he is" and that "he's a right c**t".
At this point I'm a bit taken aback as both me and sober Steve like Charles. I think nothing of it and just put it down to him being jealous of Charles as he's the only other guy in the office, has been there longer, and is friends with a lot of the workers.

At this point Brenda's manager calls it a day and heads home (thankfully) and the remaining 6 of us move on to a different bar. On the walk down to the bar I ask Steve what his Fiancee's name is in case I need to phone her/apologise to her for his inebriated state. He started to laugh and say that he couldn't remember her name - at the same time we walked past a shop named 'Cow' and he kept shouting "She's in there!".
The other 4 in the group walk ahead and get into the bar first. I'm stood in the queue to get in with Steve and he turns to me and says "I'm going to go in here and smash someone's head in!". At this point I just assume he's all talk and disregard the comment as drunk Steve being an idiot.

We get into the very crowded bar and meet up with two others from our group. About 10 minutes later we decide it's a bit too crowded and leave to find somewhere else. The other four in the group leave and I attempt to get Steve out of the bar.
I manage to lead him to the porch area where the bouncers stand and a man comes up next to me and starts dancing. Steve turns to him and shouts to him "I'm going to shove my c*** down your face!". He turns to me again and says "I'm going to go smash someone's head in", and he takes off back into the club. I quickly run after him and notice one of the bouncers following me, who I ask for help in getting Steve out of the bar so we can go and join the others.

At first the bouncer tells Steve that he needs to leave, Steve refuses and the bouncer attempts to take hold of his arm. Steve then tries to swing at the bouncer who then puts him in a hold and marches him out of the bar with me trailing behind. Once outside the bouncer releases Steve, who spins around and attempts to hit the bouncer again. I manage to stop him and grab ahold of his shoulders. At this point I was desperate and literally screaming at Steve to stop, all the while Steve is shouting at the bouncers.

While all that was going on the rest of the group was standing about 20 metres up the road watching. Not helping. Watching. None of them were drunk beyond helping, and Charles was actually sober.

I eventually got Steve to walk up the road to the rest of the group, at that point Charles and Josh (another of the honorary members of the team) turn to me and say "Oh, he was like this last time we were out".
I was completely shocked that they hadn't thought to warn me that there was a possibility that Steve would get like this.
I'd decided I'd had enough and went home, leaving Steve with the rest of the group.

The following Tuesday (I had holiday booked on Monday) I go back to work and speak with the rest of the team. It turns out that Steve had drunk phoned Linda at about 2am to say that he'd been kicked out of another bar, and he'd also drunk texted Charles at 4:20am to say that he was listening to Christmas carols.

I discussed with the rest of the team and we feel he either may not remember what he gets like when he's drunk or he is too ashamed to acknowledge the fact.
He hasn't said anything about Friday night at all this week and is proceeding as though everything is normal.

I honestly don't know if I should speak to Steve about this? He is the team leader after all and, even though we all consider ourselves friends, he should never have gotten that bad in front of the people he is supposed to manage.
Or if I should speak to Brenda's manager (he's our acting department manager as they still haven't found a replacement for Brenda)? Has the time to say anything passed?

I'm upset that Charles and Josh didn't warn me that Steve had a history of doing this, and I'm also upset that not a single one of them helped me when they saw I was struggling.
The whole ordeal has me feeling that Brenda has left us in incompetent hands and I hate the fact that Steve has made me feel this way. I've lost all my trust in him, and his either not-knowing or blasé attitude is stressing me out so much I had a nightmare about it last night.

So, what would you do in my shoes?


Jan 20, 2012
I read quickly but do you feel like anyone was sexually harassed?

I agree don't go out with them anymore. If you don't go out with them, do you feel safe in your workplace? If not, you may want to CONSIDER having a short conversation with Steve (assuming he will apologize profusely) or talk to someone in management or HR and ask for their advice.


Jan 7, 2011
Despite Steve being in a managerial role, I find this to be more of a personal issue than a work issue. Maybe it's because I'm getting older or maybe it's because my husband is a former drunk (before me and now happily sober), but I think someone who is a friend of Steve's needs to talk to him about his behavior. I feel if someone gets like Steve when they drink, then they need help.

For example, my husband's boss had a little too much wine at their Christmas dinner at which I was invited. His boss made some inappropriate comments regarding my husband and a prank he was going to pull on him. I was horrified at the prank which luckily didn't happen, but I didn't say anything. On Monday, my husband decided he needed to speak to his boss as a friend because those kind of comments are totally inappropriate.

This is but isn't the same - Steve does not need to be drinking if he acts that way. The only thing you can do is ask a friend to talk to him, otherwise, you need to steer clear of Drinking Steve.


Jul 10, 2008
Despite Steve being in a managerial role, I find this to be more of a personal issue than a work issue.

I agree. Unless this is happening on work time or in the work place, it's not a work issue. I'd just avoid going out with the group drinking again, and avoid drunk Steve.

If he has a personal issue with alcohol, but isn't directly impacting his work, I'd say it's up to a friend or relative to bring it up to him.

I have to be frank - this is why I don't go out at night partying or drinking with coworkers.


Jul 26, 2012
I'm in the US, so different things might apply, but issues that occur after work during socializing spill into the office. Especially when the social function was a gathering for another work colleague. Harassment cases have been won/settled, people fired, etc, when the incident occurred at such an event.

Of course, each situation is different, and there are no clear cut laws.

Putting that aside. My recommendation is to call it a lesson learned and to not hang outside of work with Steve. If he asks why, tell him. But, unless you truly feel that this situation warrants a discussion with management because you can no longer work with him, then let it go and just avoid it in the future.
Aug 18, 2008
I would steer clear of Drunk, even Drinking Steve, especially activities outside of work. Quite frankly, I'd steer clear of the other two as well because they do not have your best interests in mind if they are allowing you to assuage situations with Drunk Steve and Charles was sober.

As others have noted, at this point it is more of a personal situation than work-related, but if Steve starts displaying aggressive behavior in the workplace, I'd certainly bring that up with someone he reports to.


Oct 26, 2006
ITA that this is a personal situation. He has a problem, that much is crystal clear. As an adult, it is his problem to solve. A kind but honest word from you about his behavior may help ... but not at work.

I would make sure to stay very, very far from him if he is ever consuming alcohol in the future. Situations like his only get worse; I can tell you that from my own personal experience.


For the love of beautiful things
Oct 18, 2006
What a horrible evening!
Yep, keep the distance from Steve.
I would let the other 2 know why you don't go out for cocktails after work anymore, if they ask. But I'm certain they already know they were in the wrong.


Apr 5, 2009
Ia with the others so not go out socially with "steve" anymore. I totally get your fusteration and shockingly lack of help from your coworkers. I hate to say it but it sounds like they were all well aware of his behavior outside of work, which is why they joked about who would be his babysitter, the lack of helping you trying to control his behavior(it was clear that they didn't want to get involved), and probably why several of them peaced out early(didn't want to be around when the ball drops). Even though this happened with your coworkers it was at a event outside of work. It was a optional event that you went to on your own conviction. Unless he acts like this while at work im not sure what the company.could even do its a bit of a grey area imo. Im sure if i was in that situation my stomach would be in knots over it. Sorry that you were put in such a sh!tty position. *hugs*

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